The CPA tax is the proverbial round peg in a square hole when it comes to Watertown’s already cash-strapped homeowners and renters. CPA funds can only be spent on projects involving: affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space/recreation.
Please consider these facts:
• Watertown property taxes will rise by 2 percent if the CPA passes. This increase will be passed on to many renters.
• The Watertown Housing Production Plan of 2014 said that 40 percent of Watertown households was “housing cost burdened,”meaning that housing costs consume more than 30 percent of their gross household income, according to federal estimates.
• Increasing property taxes makes homes less affordable for current Watertown residents.
• Historic preservation and recreation funding is already included in our town budget.
• Watertown has been proactive in increasing the number affordable units through inclusionary zoning. For private residential developments, the required set-aside of affordable units is 12.5 percent and 15 percent depending upon size and location.
• Matching CPA funds were 29.7 percent last year, down from 100 percent in the early years and will likely spiral downwards going forward given state revenue shortfalls, major budget constraints, and more communities getting a slice of the pie.
• Our schools are in dire need of upgrades. The estimated cost range is $165 million for basic renovations to $389 million for new construction.
Most disturbing is the timing of this initiative. This vote will occur before the crucial vetting and vote for a school tax override to fund needed school renovations given our growing student population, state and federal mandates, and our five aging school buildings.
It is time for a priority check in Watertown. Our schools should be our top priority. We can’t afford both. Proponents should know this! Why would you vote for this initiative when its sole purpose is to raise tax dollars for an unelected bureaucracy?
The answer is: You shouldn’t.
Let’s keep control of our tax dollars and prioritize schools.