CPA Committee voted 7-0 (with 2 absent) to support Ballot Question #5
No surprise the Amherst Community Preservation Act Committee voted last night after little to no discussion to support the ballot question doubling the CPA tax, err, I mean "surcharge," from 1.5% to 3%. Unanimously.
Which is kind of like the fox guarding the hen house requesting the farmer, "send more chickens!"
Amherst currently has the highest tax rate in the area ($20.97/$1,000 valuation with average tax bill of $6,712/) second only to Longmeadow (at $23.15 valuation with average tax bill of $7,558) In fact, Longmeadow has the highest tax rate in the entire state.
And our public safety departments are stretched beyond the breaking point. We badly need 5 additional police officers, five additional firefighters and a new $12 million fire station in South Amherst.
CPA money, however, can only be spent on open space/recreation, historic preservation and public housing. All of which are admirable, but hardly a priority over public safety.
In 2008 the attempt failed by only 172 votes out of 10,416 cast.
In the next coming weeks a series of dominoes will fall in support of this financial burden on already overburdened taxpayers including the Historical Commission, Conservation Commission, Leisure Services and Supplemental Education (Rec Dept), Housing & Sheltering Committee and of course our illustrious town "leaders", the Select Board.
Last night, moments before taking the vote, CPA committee Chair Peter Jessop said, "It's important this be a unanimous vote." The Committee also voted unanimously to authorize Mr. Jessop to act as a PR flack to promote the measure with the mainstream media (what's left of it).
Area Tax Rates & Average Total Tax Bill:
Amherst $20.97/$1,000 total $6,712
Hadley $10.64/$1,000 total $3,278
Northampton $15.39/$1,000 total $4,597
Belchertown $17.72/$1,000 total $4,303
Sunderland $13.98/$1,000 total $3,850
So. Hadley $16.41/$1,000 total $3,682
In 2007 Amherst Town Meeting spent $268,000 ($128,000 of it CPA money) to "save" the privately owned Kimball House (brick building foreground) now dwarfed by home in rear