CLT Update
Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Spring and "No New Taxes" is in the air

Spring and "No New Taxes" is in the air!

The Community Preservation Act is falling to defeat in community after community, preserving taxpayers' hard-earned money. The newest local scheme that's sweeping the state to pry more from our wallets just isn't flying.

While bigger government advocates keep pushing for more, more, more, voters don't seem to be in the mood these days for paying the ever-increasing price. Maybe, unlike the More Is Never Enough (MINE) crowd, they're watching the tenuous economy with an eye to their limited resources.

In Rehoboth, the CPA ballot question was narrowly defeated, but in Plainville and Framingham [see news report below] it was crushed in 70-30 landslide decisions.

In Seekonk a Proposition 2 override also was shot down, while in North Attleboro voters defeated a Prop 2 override for teachers' raises by a 2-1 margin.

Spring and "No New Taxes" is in the air!

Congratulations taxpayers!

Chip Ford

The MetroWest Daily News
April 04, 2001

Framingham voters defeat preservation act
By Rob Haneisen
News Staff Writer

FRAMINGHAM -- With a battle cry of "No new taxes!" voters yesterday trounced efforts to enact a property tax surcharge for community preservation 70 to 30 percent.

Residents turned out in higher numbers than expected, with 17.4 percent, or 6,517, of the town's 37,462 registered voters casting ballots.

In the selectmen's race, incumbents Charlie Sisitsky and Ginger Esty fended off challengers Beth Bannon and Phil Dinsky.

For School Committee, incumbents Anne Mazzola and Richard Weader kept their seats, with challenger Hugh Dykens a close third.

But the Community Preservation Act was the issue of the day. In the waning days of the campaign, many were convinced it would fail -- the act uses taxes and state matching funds to buy unprotected land, fix historic buildings and improve community housing.

But the landslide left the "No on CPA" supporters giddy during their victory party at the Union House restaurant.

"The taxes were the number one reason," said No on CPA committee member Chuck Gerstein. "The whole thing was more candy than it was reality."

Fellow committee member Mal Schulze was beaming.

"The voters have to be thanked for what they've done," Schulze said before heaping praise on his committee's anti-campaign.

"If there wasn't an anti-group, then it has a chance to pass and voters wouldn't have heard the whole story."

Supporters of the 3 percent property tax surcharge -- which would have cost the average homeowner $55 a year -- said they will try and regroup.

"I think people still need to sit down and learn about the CPA," said state Rep. Debby Blumer, D-Framingham.

Although she supports the CPA, Blumer said voters were justified in being cautious. She said the CPA didn't have the feel-good quality of last year's successful high school override, and compared the CPA to buying merchandise on the Internet.

"You can't touch it, and you can't feel it," she said. "The CPA is more of a concept, and it's a tax increase."

Many residents believed the idea of raising money without a definite list of projects was unwise and untrustworthy.

CPA money raised locally could be matched with state funds to create a $3.3 million cash pot each year, supporters said. But CPA projects would have to be picked by a special committee and then approved by Town Meeting.

Expanding Tercentennial Park, fixing up the Memorial Building and building mini-parks were talked about as potential projects. Supporting these projects through the CPA would be preferable to turning to the town's bare-bones budget for money, proponents said.

"I was for the CPA when they talked about buying open space, but not when they started talking about using taxpayers' money to fix crumbling, historic buildings," said Earl Stoppel in Precinct 4.

Town Meeting member Diane Pabst, also Precinct 4, voted for the CPA.

"Who wants to live in a town with rundown, historical buildings and no open space?" she said. "It will cost one dinner out."

But more people shook their heads at the CPA, and let their pocketbooks and wallets speak for them.

"It seems to me to be a Band-Aid approach to problems that need a more comprehensive approach," said James Friel in Precinct 10.

"We've just been taxed on the high school, and now this right on top of that," said Roland Bauer in Precinct 11. "And, with this, we don't know where the money's going."

Although voter breakdowns weren't immediately available, the CPA question likely failed by an even larger margin on the Southside.

Some residents believed the proposal would benefit only those on the Northside because many of the CPA Yes committee members supported the town buying Eastleigh Farms.

"We've got young families, and we don't want to saddle them with more taxes," said Bob Chalmers in Precinct 17.

"And it wouldn't benefit this part of town anyway," said Chalmers' wife, Jennifer.

Town Meeting member Tom O'Neil, a vocal opponent of the CPA from the get-go, said voters didn't need much help shooting down the proposal.

"Our 'No' campaign didn't win it, just sound thinking by the voters," O'Neil said. "This is a vote for the taxpayers in this town."

But, ultimately, the taxpayers may be left with a town that falls apart or falls into the hands of developers, CPA supporters said.

"Most discouraging is that Framingham takes it on the chin for state aid," said Selectman Chris Petrini, co-chairman of the Yes on CPA committee.

"This was one opportunity where we could make the state ante up and allow this community to improve itself."

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