You probably know about the 4 ballot questions for Massachusetts this upcoming election (slot machines, charter schools, animal cruelty, marijuana) -- did you know that Boston will have a 5th Question? It hasn't been talked about much!
It's about the Community Preservation Act, which would establish funding for affordable housing, parks, and preservation projects out of a 1% increase in property tax (with certain exemptions) plus matching state funds. Below I've copied the text from page 5 of the Boston ballot questions PDF:
Shall Boston accept sections 3 to 7 inclusive, of Chapter 44B of the General Laws, as approved by the City Council, a summary of which appears below?
Sections 3 to 7 of Chapter 44B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, also known as the Community Preservation Act (Act), establish a dedicated funding source to enable the City of Boston to (1) help meet affordable housing needs; (2) create and rehabilitate parks, playgrounds and athletic fields; (3) preserve land for outdoor recreational uses and conservation areas; and (4) preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings and resources.
In Boston, the funding source for these community preservation purposes will be a surcharge of 1% on the annual property tax assessed on real property beginning in Fiscal Year 2018; plus other funds that may be committed by the City for community preservation purposes pursuant to Section 3(b) 1/2 of Chapter 44B; and annual distributions made by the state from a trust fund created by the Act. The Commonwealth provides funds only to communities adopting the Act.
If approved, the following will be exempt from the surcharge: (1) property owned and occupied as a domicile by any person who qualifies for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing as defined in Section 2 of the Act; (2) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property; and (3) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of class three, commercial property and class four, industrial property as defined in Section 2A of Chapter 59. A taxpayer whose tax is reduced by an abatement or exemption will receive a reduction in their surcharge in proportion to the reduction.
Upon acceptance of the Act by the voters, a Community Preservation Committee will be established to study community preservation needs, possibilities and resources, and to make annual recommendations on spending the funds.
And here are some resources and articles I dug up, since I don't know much about it myself:
- CPA tax calculator to see what the additional surcharge would be. (For the 3-story house I live in in Lower Allston, the additional yearly tax would be about $70.)
- There's an editorial in the Boston Globe arguing for it. Apparently 160 other towns have already opted in to the CPA.
- Marty Walsh supports it
...and that's all I've found so far, although I need to check in with one of housemates who I think has more details.