Watertown Voters should vote ‘Yes’ on question 5: “Should we bring the Community Preservation Act to Watertown?” We all know of projects that could improve the quality of our lives and the value of our homes in Watertown. CPA would create a dedicated fund to pay for such projects through a 2% surcharge on all property taxes, from businesses as well as home owners. The extra revenue that Watertown would have available by adopting CPA now would be about $2.2 million per year. The revenue would grow as the many capital projects that are being developed in Watertown are completed in the next few years and start paying property taxes. The dedicated fund could be used to help renovate our playing fields and parks, preserve our historical sites and buildings, and keep up with our affordable housing needs. We could also set aside CPA funds to buy additional green space as it becomes available. Such projects have been and always will be the last line items on our town budget. The dedicated CPA fund would let us pursue them.
Watertown did not vote for the CPA in 2005. We could have had $15 million available for CPA projects by now, if we had adopted it then. With that money we could have, for example, renovated our branch libraries. Instead, the East Branch Library is now being sold, a decision that Watertown will almost certainly regret in the future. Without CPA, it took us more than 10 years to complete the bike path section from Arlington to School Street. By contrast, Cambridge recently completed a section of a path that will connect Watertown to the Minuteman bike path system with half the funds coming from CPA and the other half from the state. By not voting for CPA in 2005 we left money on the table that we could have received from the state CPA trust fund, which contributed more than $542 million to the 161 communities that have joined CPA from 2002 to 2015.
Can we afford CPA? If Watertown adopts the CPA now, my quarterly property tax bill will increase by $29. Low income home owners will pay nothing. Is that a bargain for getting a dedicated fund to improve our quality of life in Watertown? I think so.
Hall Avenue, Watertown