Thursday, March 13


     I love the process of education, but sometimes we can be misled by well intentioned people. I'm going to cite an example of this and before you say I'm being unfair, I found the information in our own town records. This was said in regard to THE PURCHASE OF THE WATER COMPANY, and I quote from the 1996 annual report. "This [the purchase of the WC] was possible only after the water study committee garnered support through extensive education of residents at the annual town meeting in May and two subsequent meetings in September". This water company article was rushed through the town meeting process much like the proponents are trying to fast track this CPA article. Unfortunately we're all still paying for the water company education; so before we rush into another debacle, we really need to better understand the CPA and its implications. Perhaps we should first form a committee to study this issue; before we commit everyone to a 3% tax increase that may never go away.

      The proponents of the CPA may look at the wealth of the town and say we can afford it. Shame on anyone who says affordability is a good enough reason for taxation. And those who can afford it should be mindful of the people who are struggling to make ends meet. They too will be saddled with a tax they should never have been burdened with. If someone feels so strongly about a project getting done then they should write a check from their own checkbook not mine or anyone else's.

      The other day we had an informational meeting hosted by the proponents of the CPA. I have to say, I'm always suspicious when all of the people giving the presentation are on one side of the issue; and may even have a particular interest in the passage of the law. You have to understand that these proponents came to sing the praises of the CPA, and they did. But before we take on another tax we should consider all sides of the issue.

      One very well respected citizen asked if his historic barn could qualify for some of these CPA funds. They answered yes, then went on to show how this is just what the CPA program was designed for. To his credit the farmer was surprised that they could take someone else's money to fix his barn. I think he sandbagged them with this question; and they bit the bait hook, line and sinker. I guess some people realize that if you'll take other peoples money to give to them, then you'll take their money to give to someone else. This is not what taxation is about.

      I asked a simple question about the "TRUST FUND" which I had to ask twice and still was not answered to my satisfaction. My question was can these CPC members guarantee that not one thin dime will be spent out of these trust funds without town meeting approval? They said they don't know and they'll get back to me after they check it out. I was going to call the DOR but then it dawned on me that I already have the answer. YES THEY CAN. If Cambridge can do it Egremont can. If Wenham can do it Egremont can. If you think the water company turned into a nightmare wait and see what happens if the CPA is passed. I wonder how long this one will take to pay off?

      I found an interesting fact on a Q & A from the Wenham Ma. government website. The question was "Does the establishment of a housing trust fund allow for expenditures from it without town meeting votes and without going through the proposal process each year? The answer was YES "If you transfer CPA funds into your housing trust fund, they may then be spent for CPA eligible projects without further approval of town meeting". If Wenham can do it and it does, Egremont can! They went on to give the example of Cambridge Ma. who transferred over 20 million dollars into their housing trust fund. If Cambridge can do it and it does, Egremont can! This is the power that could be given to one Committee stacked with 5-9 members who have obvious conflicts of interest.

      Remember in a previous post I recanted my statement that the CPA is a slush fund for things that can't get approved at a regular town meeting. Well I have to recant my recant. As it turns out my fear is justified. The fact is that many of the towns that have adopted the CPA have used, and continue to use the CPA funds in this manner. Let me ask you a question; How do you think the CPC, consisting of members from every committee except the finance committee, will handle such a large slush, I mean trust fund? Given the history of how this town has handled the enterprise fund, what do you think the outcome of this fund might be? PLEASE DON'T BUY THE PITCH! In case you haven't noticed I'm not in favor of our town adopting the CPA and as a citizen I will be voting against it.


  1. sounds to me as though Kevin makes good points. we should be careful about this tax increase.

  2. Property values in Egremont stay higher than surrounding towns in large part because our taxes are relatively low. If you want proof of that, ask any experienced realtor in the area. So I'm not in favor of tacking on a tax the proceeds of which can be spent without specific approval at town meeting.

    Over 10 years ago the French Park Fund was established to pay for improvements at French Park that the town would have difficulty funding. The people who want the projects and improvements contemplated by the CPA are free to establish a similar charitable organization and fund it with their own money and money from others similarly inclined, rather than taking tax dollars from people who don't share their view. I'll volunteer to do all the paperwork to set it up, for free.

    Richard Allen

  3. Be clear. This is not a tax on property per se. It is merely a surcharge (tax if you want) on ones TAX.
    So it is not 3% of assessed value of ones house, it is 3% of ones TAX. Like 3% of $ 2,500, or $ 75.00. Anyhow, the warrant item is for 1%, or $ 25.00 per year.

  4. Richard - the CPA calls for specific town approval by vote at a Town meeting.

    1. Yes but only to transfer the funds to the four trust funds. then the committee can do anything they want to with it.

  5. Kevin & Richard,my opinion very often differs from yours,but I think that you are right on with this one.If these people want this so badly I think they should have it, but not by taxing us that don't want it. Thankyou.