Former tax override opponent Jeff Seideman is supporting Mayor Setti Warren’s three proposed property tax overrides but would like voters to have the opportunity to repeal the surcharge Newton homeowners pay for the Community Preservation Act.

Jeff brought the idea before aldermen last week. He sent this to me in an email:

When we’re asking the public to vote for $11.4 million in debt exclusions and an override, isn’t it about time to do the right thing regarding the CPA, which this year will collect about $3 million in tax surcharges. It was passed 10 years ago with the promise, or strong suggestion, that the public would have the opportunity to reconsider it in five years. Didn’t happen, though the BOA was well aware that I and others were pushing for it.

In the last 10 years the CPA has raised approximately $40 million in taxes and matches and another $10 million in bonding. It’s basically gone into the hands of aew special interests (housing, open space, recreation and historic preservation). All their important projects have been funded and we’re now down to inviting people to suggest projects for the money. Also worth noting is that the match is now down to about 20% and trending further downward.

If we’re asking for approval of the $11.4 million, how about giving the public the opportunity to say whether it wants to continue the CPA and the $3 million it will collect this year, or end it and think of the $3 million as a partial offset for the $11.4 million. It effectively reduces the cost of the override to the public to $8.4 million, yet gives the city everything it’s asking for.

Yes, the affected special interests will complain, but hey, after 10 years and $50 million of funding, that would take a lot of cojones. Furthermore, if you think of the $3 million as being transferred to the override to pay for new schools, its MSBA match will be close to twice the current — and decreasing — CPA match. It’s a better deal.

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