Warwick Community Preservation Act won't be on next week's ballot

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

    WARWICK-The much debated Warwick Community Preservation Act passed by the state legislature this past summer will not be on the ballot next week when Warwick voters go to the polls. “At this point the measure cannot be placed on the ballot for the general election of November, 2005,” said Supervisor Michael Sweeton in a release last week. “The Town Board understood that the measure must be voted on to the ballot by the Town Board at least 60 days prior to the election date and that the issue required careful preparation to ensure an informed electorate.” The preparation includes identifying the resources that need to be protected, holding public hearings and drafting legislation creating the community preservation fund, according to Sweeton. This is a long process, he added. Another part of the preparation is educating the public. “We recognize there will be people who will oppose it because they do not want another tax and that’s understandable,” Sweeton said Two years ago, the town began its campaign to get the state to allow town residents to decide whether to impose a transfer tax on most properties sold in the town. This past summer, the Legislature and the governor agreed. The tax will only be imposed if town voters give their okay. If they do, this measure will allow the town to impose a 0.75 percent tax on all real estate transactions with the proceeds going into the town’s open space preservation fund, which is used to buy development rights on farms. Some funds have been used for recreational facilities as well, such as the town beach and a ball field in Greenwood Lake. There are some exemptions for this tax. When the state approved the measure, many thought it would be on the November ballot. Many in the real estate business have come out against this tax, saying it will burden home buyers looking in Warwick. James Marsden, owner of GMAC Real Estate on Main Street, said he is not surprised that the measure won’t be on the ballot next week. “They probably don’t have enough time to put their spin on it,” he said, referring to the town and village leaders who are in favor of the measure. “Realtors as a group are against this because we’re looking at the whole picture. We want to keep home ownership more affordable.” What concerns Marsden is that the law has been marketed as not really affecting the sellers in Warwick. Rather, the buyers will pay the tax. “It doesn’t say that the buyer must pay this tax,” Marsden said. “It will be negotiated out of the proceeds. This is an entry fee into our glorious town but may be paid by the person exiting.” Sweeton said there will be no special election for this measure, since special elections are costly and a general election would ensure a larger turnout. Therefore, voters should not expect to see this on their ballot for at least another year. The education process, he added, will be just that — educating the public on just what the effects of this preservation act will be. “Our obligation is to provide enough information for people to make an informed decision,” Sweeton said. “We just want to do it right. It will be their decision. That’s all we’ve ever wanted was to give the voters of Warwick the choice.”