Letter to the Editor: End The Tax On A Tax


To the Editor:

CPA signs, prominent at various points around our town, proclaim “This project is funded in part with CPA funds from the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea”.                        

This is misleading! The funds are MOSTLY from the town taxpayers.

While in the early days the Commonwealth provided a 100% match to taxpayer monies,

their contributions have dramatically dwindled.  This year Manchester taxpayers will fund $ 0.82 of every dollar for this program.   According to the town’s financial statements, this has been typical in recent years:

                                            TAXPAYER BURDEN

                                                YE 2020    $ 0.82

                                                YE 2019:       0.84

                                                YE 2018        0.86

                                                YE 2017        0.84

                                                 YE 2016        0.58

                                                 YE 2015        0.87

Town officials suggest that “revamped legislation is hoping to increase the match to a minimum of 35%”.  As the Commonwealth will have substantially less gasoline, sales, meals and hotel taxes as well as the impact of deferred income taxes, it would seem this is wishful thinking.  This is not “free money” or “pennies from heaven”, it is mostly taxpayer money.

This 1.5% surcharge continues unless taxpayers vote to eliminate it, with the Town Meeting warrant proposing money for such things as:

  • construction of a “water bubbler” at Masconomo Park (doesn’t everyone now use water bottles?) and the upgrade of park/beach signs (do we need “upgraded” signs now?);
  • $30k to help restore a church building which is not owned by the town but privately held by a religious organization (this will be our 3rd “donation” with $48k given in 2015 and $35k in 2014);
  • $150k to continue building cash reserves so the Affordable Housing Trust can undertake a project in the future ($380k has been contributed since its 2016 formation prior to any project; is this the best alternative or should monies be allocated when a project is identified and financial requirements known?);
  • undertake design/engineering work for the expansion of Sweeney Park at a price tag of $105k just for this planning ($50k from CPA plus a further $55k in town monies followed by construction estimated to be ~ $1.5 Million).

Many past CPA projects have incurred substantial cost overruns.  Visible examples include the Town Hall boat ramp and the Tuck’s Point Chowder House where the town chose to cover excess costs from its coffers.   The Town Hall Common “revitalization” seems headed in this direction as well; having voted $225k last fall and $100k in spring 2019, it may end up costing nearly $500k before adding in contributions made to the Veterans Memorial.

As recently as March 13th, it was indicated that “Both the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen reviewed the proposed list…and are supporting all of the CPC’s recommended projects”.

Our residents and businesses are suffering economically during the chaos in the financial markets, and it is they – our taxpayers – who should be supported.  If Town officials decline to take the necessary steps to eliminate this surcharge, the voters should insist on it!

Brenda Furlong


brenda furlong