To the editor:
All amounts listed in my letter are derived from the latest CPC Consolidated statement, CPC FY Summary, CPC project list and includes the FY ’15 CPA budget Town Meeting recommendations. There are 81 separate funded items listed. My numbers can be checked by anyone interested. The refuters’ numbers are wrong so therefore their percentage estimates are also wrong.
Exposing a smokescreen. CPC “does not spend,” Town Meeting does. What is unsaid is that CPC makes all spending assignments and recommends the decisions to Town Meeting where they are approved with little discussion. The sad part is that there are no other choices offered and if there were differing motions they could not be enacted without referring the changes to future CPC decisions. It’s a one-way street with expenses under CPC dictates. CPC has become a permanent over 2 ½ override except for ballot vote approvals, required for other over 2 ½ funds. Millions are spent without popular ballot vote. Elitist control of the majority.
No CPC expenses have ever been directed to benefit the thousands of residents that live in the Devol, Sawdy, Watuppa and Fall-River watersheds. The only watersheds ever considered for funding have been part of Westport Rivers projects, under heavy influence of Westport Rivers Watershed Alliance officers and members, some sitting on the CPC, Estuaries and other committees that receive CPC funding.
Since 2001, CPC priorities have been directed to: repairs of tax exempt and private properties, unjustified funding of more open space, purchasing private property to turn over to a private organization, purchase and restoration of Head garage to turn over to WRWA, etc., These have resulted in putting off construction of recreational ball fields and affordable housing, and relegating town building repairs to second fiddle. Luxury tax benefits are not spread equally.
There has definitely been overuse of open space funding when considering the small amount of buildable Westport land remaining. CPC monies used to buy land conservation restrictions enable large tax deductions to the landowners and some lands actually become tax exempt adding to the $200, million of tax exempt entities. Except in very few instances, CPC funding of open space land would not happen without CPC funds. Is the extra tax burden shared equally?
An obscure matter is membership of the CPC which sheds light on the committee’s decision-making philosophy. CPC is appointed rather that elected, with core membership made up of six members from other town committees who decide which member they elect to the CPC; five of those committees are appointed, doubly insulating CPC from the electoral process. The core membership is populated by long-term members, some who have served for 13 years, some are members of up to three town committees, some are members (one was a pair official) of private organizations. This essentially allows multiple votes by members of multiple committees when, one, their committee initiates funding applications to CPC and, two, when CPC decides the funding process. Most of the core members are south end residents. All this combines to minimize diverse opinions, reflected in selected priorities. Three minority members are appointed by the Selectmen.
One common practice of the CPC was the failure to require a sealed bid process on funds granted to applicants, minimizing oversight of town and state expenditures.
Reducing this tax to 1% makes sense.
Claude A. Ledoux