LETTER: Rejecting CPA Would be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish


The city of Watertown is being left behind. This is occurring because we have been penny wise – pound foolish. It’s not the case for Belmont, Waltham, Cambridge, and another 158 additional cities and towns in the Commonwealth.

Presently, Watertown sets aside budget money and allocates it for upkeep, update, and the repair of open lands, refurbish playgrounds, preserve historical areas, and other town needs. These are important projects. Unfortunately our town is spending more money than it needs to on these projects. The State of MA is willing to match 28 cents ‘on the dollar’ for every dollar Watertown spends on these projects and we, as a city, are not taking advantage of this opportunity.

Watertown residents previously rejected our last opportunity in 2005, to participate in the Community Preservation Act. We managed to lose out on $14.2 million dollars since then. We now can correct that short sighted decision by voting YES on Question 5 this November 8 and becoming a Community Preservation Act town.

This would mean the town would generate a fund by applying a 2% surcharge on our real estate taxes, averaging an additional $120 per household yearly; with the state matching 27% of this total. This process would free up additional funds for various town needs. It only seems reasonable to share in the money we are currently paying for other towns to use.

Exemptions exist for low-income residents and for low-to-moderate income seniors. It would create a transparent process for determining town improvements, and encourage inclusive steps for all to participate in. We all want our environment to be beautiful and to always create “The Best Watertown Possible,” with an eye to our community’s future and vision!

It’s a no brainer. Make an affordable investment in the town, create a better place to live and increase your home value as well. Vote yes on Question 5.


Tony Kelley
James Street, Watertown

17 thoughts on “LETTER: Rejecting CPA Would be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

  1. 1. Are you stating that every dollar that Watertown spends on the projects you mentioned the state will provide us a 28% match? Does the town have to ask for this money beforehand or do we just spend the money on the project, fill in a form, and the state sends us a check?
    2. What is the process for low income and low/medium income residents to obtain an exemption from the TAX? Do they have to bring their federal income taxes forms to the town hall to prove their income every year? And, how will this information be secured from other people?
    3. Will you and your group commit to making up any shortfall if the state does not provide a 28% match in funds? Of course not.
    3. As more and more towns enter the regressive program can you commit that we will continue to receive matching funds? Of course not!
    4. Will you help to cover the expenses of our renters (those who are living hand to mouth) when their rents go up because of this tax? Of course not?
    5. We need additional taxes to repair our schools so this is not a good time to be panhandling for a 2% TAX to get the nice things that this group advocates for.
    6. Yes, this is a no brainer BECAUSE ANYONE WITH A BRAIN can see that this it is NOT the right time for this TAX.

  2. More twisted logic from the CPA vote yes people. Don’t forget that if this is voted in,
    the 2% “surcharge” will be in addition to the ever expanding property taxes. Last
    year two family home owners got what I believe was the biggest property tax increase
    on record. All indications are that another similar increase is just around the corner
    for next year. To say that the “average” would be about $120 more a year per household is disingenuous at best. While that number may hold true for a few homeowners, most will see a much larger numbers.

    A large property tax increase last year, coupled with another large tax increase this
    year and who knows what in the following years plus a CPA “surcharge” will certainly
    make for some tough sledding when it comes time for the important things like
    a school related debt exclusion or override.

    Think long and hard about this one folks.

    Vote NO on question 5.

  3. Perhaps you forgot to mention some things Tony?? “28 cents on the dollar” Where does THAT dollar come from? It comes OUT of the pockets of our cash strapped and house burdened families. Did you intentionally not mention that if 161 towns passed it that also means 19o- rejected it too? Lastly, It’s also worth noting that wealthy, progressive, liberal Brookline voted this down 57% to 43%, due to it coming on the heels of a looming school override vote there. Sound familiar?
    Reply ↓

  4. We respectfully disagree with CPA supporters. The timing is wrong. We have stood out on the corners of Watertown and have spoken to many parents and the average taxpayer and they are overwhelmingly with us. For us, “Schools First” is more than just a slogan, it’s a moral obligation and the right thing to do.

    We are happy to discuss the issue with anyone and you can reach us via our Watertown Strong Schools Facebook page, via email at watertownstrongschools@gmail.com, or on our website at http://www.watertownstrongschools.com.

    You can find our position statement on Question #5 here http://www.watertownstrongschools.com/bl…, answers to questions about our statement in written form here http://www.watertownstrongschools.com/bl… or via our video https://youtu.be/7rOQGsSUun0. If you’d like to sign up for a yard sign, please follow this link https://goo.gl/forms/vQMG3eUGn3I9mHD92

  5. In addition, The Town’s proposed FY17 tax classifications have been released and will be discussed at the 10/25 Town Council meeting. The average residential property tax is projected to go up 5.9%, while commercial will go up 9.9%. Under certain scenarios, some residential taxes could go up over 10%. These rates are all without factoring in the CPA tax. If the CPA passes, add on another 2%.

    I am not pointing these things out because I am anti-CPA, but to illustrate the real concern WSS has about the timing of the CPA initiative and its potential negative impact on a future override to fund much needed renovations for all five schools. How likely are our fellow neighbors to vote for two tax increases in a short period of time?

    CPA supporters often point out the exemptions for low income taxpayers. What about the working families and other taxpayers that are right on the cusp of an exemption and can’t afford it? What about the renters that will have their rents increased? How will they vote when the time for the school override is here?

  6. Looking at the numbers, the schools need hundreds of millions of dollars once a decision has been made to do the work necessary to bring their infrastructure up to speed. The people who are likely to oppose these necessary expenditures for the schools are going to oppose them whether or not the CPA passes. I see no connection between the two.
    By the way, John, I hope you plan to support development of the schools.

    • Mr Ferguson, As I responded earlier to the same question in from another reader-You can bank on it! I have said to anyone that will listen I will work as hard to pass an override vote for schools as I have in defeating the CPA Tax. I actually mentioned it live on Watertown Cable News the other night… I dont see any proponents sate that. In fact, the declined to participate! Take a look for yourself. http://wcatv.org/watertown-weekly-news/cpa-interview Now, lets see how many of our Town Councilors will state, in public, that they will work as hard to get a school override passed as they have in passing the CPA. It’s there turn to step up as from what I hear some are saying/inferring just the opposite.

  7. The arguments put forth in the letter insult the intelligence of Watertown Voters.

    Let me translate them for you. Since 2005 the Bully has been stealing our lunch and we’ve lost out because we haven’t been buying it back!

    The only No Brainer is to defeat the CPA again this year…

    No we didn’t lose out on money since 2005, we saved a ton of money that would have been wasted on Lord knows what !

    It would be tremendously foolish to agree to tax increase to give special interests a $2 million annual revenue stream to spend with knowing exactly what projects they want to under take and how much they will cost. They got a name for that— A SLUSH FUND!

    It would be tremendously foolish to allow some of disingenuous and irresponsible Town Councilors, who endorsed the CPA to appoint their Special Interest Lobby friends to a shadow government board that will be charged with overseeing said slush fund. Mind you some of these CPA endorsing Councilors have already and repeatedly shown shameless disregard for the rights of homeowners. So they are the last people to be trusted in this matter. They are already knocking on doors lying to tenants, telling them this tax increase won’t effect them. They know better and they are deliberately lying.

    I’m not even going to bother to address the rest of the “details” in this letter. It’s already been addressed several times.

    The bottom line: How many of residents would “invest” in company that won’t tell you what specific products they make or intend to make, what they expect the cost of production and other expenses will be against project profits????

    That’s precisely what we are being asked to do! They haven’t even bothered to give us some hypothetical proposals with the salient details… For example we’d might restore this property or park. If that’s the case, this will be cost and time-frame. No they are too intellectually lazy to do the work.

    Their entire campaign can be boiled down to one sentence.. Just give us the money and trust us! Bernie Madoff would blush at such a deal!

  8. For all the dissenters let’s clear up a few things..The 2 percent is against your TAX BILL NOT THE VALUE OF YOUR HOUSE. Unless there are suddenly a lot of multi million dollar houses in Watertown you wouldn’t pay more an extra $200 A YEAR. I am sure most of us spend more on coffee, manicures, or some other small expense you don’t even remember a year. I think we can all afford CPA.

    • 1. My real estate tax bill is based on the value of my house! So, please do not try to confuse people. The more valuable my house becomes the more taxes I pay, hence the higher the CPA tax will be for me. Five years ago my taxes were 40% lower than they are today, so in 5 years what will that CPA tax cost me? You do not know, and neither do I, but I can say that my real estate taxes have not ever gone down!
      2. $200.00 dollars may not be much for you but to some who will not qualify for a CPA exemption to this tax (owners and renters) $200.00 is real money.

  9. For a minimum of 5 years. The average tax bill is 6000 K a year as of last Thursday. So, you’re ok with a blanket statement that “we can all afford the CPA” or 600 Dollars?? We know factually that approx 1 of every 4 households spend over 30% of their income on rent/mortgage making then “Housing cost Burdened”. That’s about 5000 Homes/Apartments. Would you lie to go tell them how you feel about their money?

  10. Secondly this program is not run by a “shadow” government. If passed a Community Preservation committee is formed that must review and approve all work proposals before they are funded by CPA. This process involves lots of oversight and money is not handed out wily nily.

    Thirdly I agree with Mr.Ferguson that there is NO connection to the schools. The CPA is a seperate fund which can only be used for certain things. In fact the only connection would be if the CPA commitee voted to use CPA money to help REHABILITATE OUR HISTORIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS.

    Details matter folks!

    • Question finally answered-Can renters, who number in the thousands, file for an exemption to the CPA Tax? Answer-NO. Thanks to the Town Councilor who confirmed this for the many citizens who rent, and who will have this tax passed on to them in the form of a rent increase.

  11. The connections between the CPA and the schools is very clear. The CPA wants us add a 2% TAX on our real estate. The schools are going to need a lot of money to repair and upgrade them which will require additional taxes. So, the connection is how many tax dollars are the people in this town willing to spend. If the CPA passes will they also be willing to pay more taxes to repair the schools? Why not wait to see what the schools will cost us and then look to pass the CPA. Lets not forget that the schools are required while CPA interests are things that are nice to have.

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