AYER – By a narrow margin, residents in Tuesday’s annual town elections voted to increase their current contribution to the Community Preservation Act (CPC) from the existing 1-percent surcharge on their property tax bills to a 3-percent surcharge.
When the vote was tallied, 235 voters said yes, versus 196 who voted no.
When Ayer voters adopted the CPA in 2001, they agreed to a 3 percent annual surcharge on their property taxes, the maximum contribution.
Two years later, Ayer voters downsized their contribution to the 1-percent minimum.
Town meeting voters, however, opted earlier this year to re-up that amount to three percent. Under the law, the measure requires a backup ballot vote to pass.
The state, for its part, kicks in matching funds, but that percentage has been a moving target since the law was enacted in 2000.
Designed as a “smart growth” initiative and overseen by a committee that each municipality that adopts the law must establish, CPA funds can be used for projects in four general categories: open space, affordable housing, historic resources and outdoor recreation.
Town meeting voters get the final say on how that money is spent. The CPA Committee, after reviewing project proposals submitted each year, selects candidates and makes recommendations.
Turnout was sparse but steady all day, according to Town Clerk Susan Copeland, who reported a total turnout of 473 at the end of the day, which is 7.93 percent of the town’s 5,967 registered voters.
There were no head-to-head races, with a dozen positions on the ballot.
For Selectman, incumbent Jannice Livingston ran unopposed for a three-year term. She garnered 388 votes (200 in Precinct 1 and 273 in Precinct 2.)
It will be her third term on the board, but the fourth time she has run for the three-year seat. “After this term, I will have served for 10 years,” Livingston said in a brief interview Wednesday morning.
First Elected in 2013, with four candidates vying for the seat and a five-member board, Livingston and the other selectmen had to run for re-election after the board downsized to three members,she said.
“I’d like to say thank you Ayer voters for their confidence in me and for voting for me,” Livingston said. “I look forward to moving forward, hopefully in a positive direction.”
Next on the ballot, Stephen Slarsky retained his post as Commissioner of Trust Funds, a three-year term.
Longtime Constable Richard Skoczylas received 379 votes, securing another 3-year term.
With one 3-year Assessor’s seat open and nobody running, there were three write-in candidates: former Selectman Christopher Hillman, Nicholas Laggis and Geoffrey Tillotson.
Hillman won with 16 votes. Laggis received 9 votes and Tillotson received 6 votes.
Park Commissioners Gerald Amenta and Scott Copeland ran again for two 3-year seats.
Amenta received 366 votes and Copeland received 378 votes.
There was no candidate on the ballot for a single, one year seat on the Park Commission,but there were two write-ins: Jason Leone received 5 votes and Matt Ryan received 3 votes.
The Planning Board had two 3-year seats to re-fill, that of Geoffrey Tillotson and Nathanael King. Both were re-elected, Tillotson with 353 votes; King with 343 votes.
Pamela Papineau retained her seat on the Board of Health, for another three year term, with 361votes.
Library Trustees Susan Kennedy and Sharon Slarksy both retained their seats, each for a 3-year term, with 364 votes and 380 votes, respectively.
Michele Granger garnered 384 votes to win another three year term on the Regional School Committee, while Joseph Leone received 372 votes for a one-year term on the same board.
Janet Providakes won another 5-year term on the Housing Authority, with 380 votes.