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timmc ([personal profile] timmc) wrote2016-10-11 08:07 am

Boston: Did you know there's a Question 5 on the ballot this year?

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:

...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.

alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)

[personal profile] alexandra_thorn 2016-10-11 03:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Housemate JR asked me a while back if I'd heard about this, and I hadn't, but that might just be because I live under a baby rock.

JR says that as far as she's heard, left-wingers tend to be in favor of the proposal as supporting affordable housing.

I haven't really looked into it much, but it seems pretty innocuous. In general I'm not that fond of property tax because I think it contributes to rent hikes and gentrification, but this proposal would represent a pretty small amount of money even if it all gets passed along to tenants. On the other hand, also doesn't seem like a large amount of money for doing the good things that it's supposed to do.

Overall, I guess I'd say I don't see a lot of negative coming out of this and there's some potential for positive outcomes, so why not support it?