Friday, May 3, 2002
ConsCom votes to retain 2.0% Community Preservation Act surtax
The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) voted unanimously to support retention of the 2% surcharge on tax assessments above an automatic $100,000 exemption, as approved at last year's Town Meeting. The surcharge, which in its first year qualified the town for matching funds under the state's Community Preservation Act, brought in $215,758 and is slated to be matched by $216,000 from state coffers.
Articles 21,22 and 23 of this year's Town Warrant call for cutting the 2% assessment back to .01%, 1% or 1.5%, respectively. Town counsel has advised that any one of the three articles that passes must go on a town ballot 45 days later. If none of the three pass, the surtax will remain at 2%.
At ConsCom's April 25 meeting Commissioner John Lee, who represents the commission on the townwide community preservation committee (CPC), opened the discussion by stating that many CPC members reluctantly recommend dropping the surtax to 1.5% in deference to the rising financial burden on Carlisle taxpayers. On the other hand, the planning board has termed any cut bad fiscal management considering the value of the dollar for dollar match from the state. Lee agreed with their logic, saying that the town is certain to need the money in the near future to fund land acquisition for recreation, conservation, or affordable housing. Nonetheless, he believed it would be "politically prudent" for ConsCom to support the 1.5 level., but finally added that whatever the commission voted, he personally would support retention of the 2% figure.
Commissioner Jonathan Beakley recognized the validity of political considerations but suggested, "If you believe that CPA is good and we do maybe we shouldn't support any of the cuts." Member Peter Burn saw the problem as one of short term or long term wisdom. "In the short term it costs us money, but in the long term, the town will save." He called for a vote to retain the full 2% levy.
Chair Chris Kavalauskas called for a vote on each of the three articles that proposed reductions, as they appear in the Warrant. Each was turned down unanimously, and Lee was named to present the commission's rationale at Town Meeting.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito