Friday, March 16, 2001
Selectmen Propose 2% Tax Surcharge for Community Preservation Act
A 2% surcharge, with exclusions for the first $100,000 of property valuation and for residents qualifying for low income housing, will be proposed when the special town meeting convenes on April 10 to discuss and vote on the Community Preservation Act. This Act allows Carlisle to add a surcharge to property taxes to develop a fund for the purposes of conservation protection, historic preservation, and affordable housing.
At the March 13 selectmen's meeting, a chart prepared by town administrator Madonna McKenzie estimated the potential funds to be raised at various surcharge levels, with and without the exclusions. Quickly deciding that the exclusions were necessary, the selectmen focused on those numbers. Using some back of the envelop math, the amount of the surcharge was estimated as averaging about $150 per taxable parcel at the 3% level, and about $100 per taxable parcel at the 2% level. Although there are advantages to adopting the 3% level, which gives access to additional state matching funds, the selectmen agreed that 2% was a more defensible level. Lack of information from the FinCom regarding the amount of the override hampered the discussion, as the total potential increase in tax bills for 2001 could not be determined.
As there were no solid numbers as to how many households would qualify for an exclusion, and the process for gaining an exclusion was not fully understood, only a rough estimate could be made of how much money would be SELECTMEN, continued from page 1
raised. Assuming 125 low-income exclusions, the town would hope to raise about $155,000 at the 2% level before any state matching funds. At a matching level of 80%, the fund would receive about $280,000 overall.
Selectman Doug Stevenson expressed some reservations that "we're putting the cart before the horse. We're creating this big pot and then we'll figure out what to do with it." Selectman Mike Fitzgerald responded that "This is a way to discipline ourselves into doing what we need to do to accomplish town goals."
Another issue was raised. Once the money was allocated, what happens if town meeting continues to vote down (a project) based on site issues? The money within the fund must be allocated each year, and it was unclear whether the state law would allow reallocation at a later date.
Discussion of the make-up of the Community Preservation Committee followed. This committee is responsible for reporting on projects and recommending allocation to town meeting. It was determined that it would have seven members appointed by the selectmen based on recommendations of the various boards to be represented. By law, the historical commission, planning board, housing authority, recreation commission, and conservation commission, must be represented.
Once the town enacts the CPA, it is committed to participate for five years. The level of surcharge can change year to year. It was not known what the lowest assessment level could be.
The warrant for the special town meeting was then closed.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito