Friday, May 14, 2010
Thoughts on the CPA
Annual Town Meeting voted against Article 20 to consider the reduction or elimination of Carlisle’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) program. The wording of the Article was confusing, and defeat of the Article indicated support for continuing the CPA program unchanged. The margin of defeat was clear, but not overwhelming and the result of the referendum at next Tuesday’s Election will be important.
Carlisle’s 2% CPA real estate tax surcharge has been used for community preservation projects such as the restoration of Gleason Library and the purchase of the Benfield Land. A percentage of the funds collected locally are matched by the state. Before voting, consider the cost and benefits of the CPA program. A vote against ballot question 4 will tell the Selectmen not to put the program on the ballot next year and to keep the program in place as it is.
Many points were raised in the discussion at Town Meeting (see CPA articles on pages 1 and 4.) Ending the surcharge would soften the tax impact of the recently approved Carlisle School building project and proposed renovation of the high school. Estimates vary, however. Larry Barton, Carlisle’s finance director, treasurer and tax collector, says that the 2% CPA real estate tax surcharge adds about $200 per year to the average tax bill.
Taxes support many essential and vital services, including schools, police and fire protection and road maintenance. When dividing the tax revenues, is 2% a reasonable minimum amount to devote to open space and recreation, historic preservation and affordable housing?
Since 2002, Carlisle has received a sizeable $1.9 million in matching state grants. Just as aid for school building projects has tightened over the years, the state’s matching CPA grants have dropped from the beginning, when local CPA revenue was matched 100%. Barton estimates that in fiscal year 2011 the town will receive 31% state matching funds, totaling $106,460. Are these matching grants still worthwhile? Is the glass half empty or half full?
Weigh all the information and voice your opinion at the polls on Tuesday. ∆
On May 1, 2009, I took our youngest son to Logan with his backpack, his mountain bike in a large cardboard box, and a one way ticket to Amsterdam. As it turned out, he wouldn’t return to Carlisle until two weeks ago. Quite an adventure; biking everywhere, climbing the Alps, SCUBA diving in Thailand, and surfing in Bali. He hadn’t told us his itinerary and, by December, we were beginning to hear less and less frequently from him and getting a little anxious upon hearing that he was in Bangkok. The day after Christmas, I wrote an e-letter to try to “reel” him back into staying more connected:
“Hi Ben . . . We’ve had a ‘Walton’ Christmas. The snow covered everything and on Christmas Eve day it was perfect for snow-people making. Miles, Margot, cousin Mackenzie and I made a snowMom, a Pop, a Charlie Brown, and a dog that looked more like an overfed sheep. They were complete with carrot noses, hand-picked Margot-selected stones for eyes, bow shaped twigs for mouths, and scarves and hats. They are down by the mailbox waving their stick arms ‘Hi’ to everyone passing by.
“Christmas Eve was all about tree trimming and going to the First Religious Society for the 5 p.m. service. Candlelight, and a full house. Caroling on the Green immediately afterward until the fuse blew lighting the evergreen tree and all the lights went out and everyone came into Union Hall to sing instead of freezing outside. At home again, everyone gathered by the fire for me to read A Child’s Christmas in Wales and I surprised them by reading your last email message as a pre-amble. Miles played the violin for everyone and Meike accompanied him on the recorder. Drew and Emily left at 9 to get the kids in bed and Mackenzie went to bed soon after, intimidated by warnings that Santa wouldn’t come if she was still awake. Uncle Kevin was out in the snow at midnight under her window with sleigh bells in hand, ringing them just enough to half-waken her and be credible. In the morning, she could see Santa’s footprints in the ashes in the fireplace and sled tracks on the roof. Naturally, the cookies and milk and carrots had all been devoured. Yes, Mackenzie, there is a Santa Claus. His name is Uncle Kevin.
“On Christmas morning, Mackenzie got a professional-grade Karaoke machine under the tree, and Uncle Kevin helped Sharon assemble it, mercifully ‘forgetting’ the step that attached the power cord to the amplifier inside the device. Her Mom was distraught, but told Mackenzie that they would get it fixed ‘ASAP.’ All the other kids received ukuleles that Kevin bought in Hawaii. A musical Christmas! For dinner, Emily made pumpkin/carrot/celery/parsnip/spice soup. Delicious! And we had roast beast, stuffing with cranberries, roasted brussel sprouts and red wine from New Zealand. Last night we went to see the Sherlock Holmes movie, and Mom took the kids to see Chipmonks Christmas 17. I’d say a good Christmas all around despite not having you with us. Everyone says a hearty ‘Hi,’ is green with envy, and wishes you a Happy New Year and safe passage home when you finally decide to do so. Love, Dad”
Well, he didn’t write any more frequently than before, but he’s home now, and says he especially enjoyed Christmas this year. I wonder what he meant by that? ∆
© 2010 The