Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Death and Taxes
The Zombie tax increase that refuses to die returns to Town Meeting this spring courtesy of a citizens petition signed by ten registered voters.
Amherst first passed the Community Preservation Act, a sort of sneaky way around Prop 2 1/2, in 2001 at the 1% level, then increased it to 1.5% in 2006, but failed to double that to 3% in 2008.
Now it's back for another go at 3% -- the highest allowed by state law.
CPA money, plus a 28% match with state money, can only be used for affordable housing, open space and historical preservation. Each of the three categories must be allotted at least 10% annually and the other 70% can then go back to any one of the three categories, or for recreation.
This year about $500,000 will be raised between local taxpayers and the 28% state matching funds.
The tax is unfair to business because homeowners get an exemption of the first $100,000 in valuation but commercial property owners do not. And Amherst also recently passed a Business Improvement District in the downtown that also increased the property taxes paid by commercial property owners.
Can you imagine if the $15/hour minimum wage bylaw and the extra 1.5% CPA property tax surcharge are both enacted by Town Meeting? Amherst town center will become a ghost town.