Concerned Watertown Homeowners
Are you a homeowner, renter or business owner? If so, Question 5 will no doubt have a negative economic impact on you and your family. The CPA is a property tax surcharge to raise funds for open space, historic preservation and affordable housing. It’s also a permanent tax on a tax. This money will come from our cash strapped neighbors’ wallets. The average proposed 2017 tax increase is 6% for homeowners and nearly 10% for business owners. If the CPA passes, you will be taxed an additional 2%, increasing average taxes to 8% for homeowners and 12% for businesses. How does this increase affordability?
How will the CPA affect renters?
Renters are being told the tax only applies to homeowners. Landlords will pass these higher taxes on by increasing rents. Renters, under no circumstances, are you eligible for an exemption.
What are matching funds?
Voters assume it is a dollar for dollar match. It’s not. In 2015, the state matched 29%. It will continue to spiral downward to 19% for 2016 and can go as low as 5%.
Shouldn’t we get our fair share?
CPA supporters say we should claim our fair share of matching funds. If you haven’t bought/sold/refinanced a home, you haven’t paid a penny into the CPA. Don’t let people say that you have paid when you haven’t.
Did we leave money on the table by not adopting the CPA in 2005?
No, the cost to taxpayers far outweighs the rewards. We would tax thousands of our neighbors $15 million dollars to receive matching funds. Next year you would be taxing yourself, and your neighbors, almost 2 million dollars to get 340K.
The CPA benefits everyone right?
Supporters claim the CPA will benefit us all through open/recreation space, historical preservation, and affordable housing. That sounds great, but they haven’t demonstrated needs nor identified projects with any detail. They want your money first, and then they will tell you how they plan to spend it. Is that how YOU manage your money?
We don’t need the CPA
• Watertown recently increased the percentage of units set aside as affordable in large developments to 15%. A 296-unit apartment complex just opened, gaining Watertown 30 new affordable units. Belmont has had the CPA for 6 years and has only 3% affordable housing. Watertown, without the CPA, is at 6.5%.
• CPA supporters want more open space. Nice idea, but where is it? What open space is available in Watertown? Oakley Country Club is the largest parcel and is privately owned. I don’t think anyone is selling Oakley Country Club.
• All of Watertown’s parks have been upgraded or are part of the Town’s Capital Improvement Plan. CPA supporters want to purchase Walker Pond and turn it into a soccer field. It’s a landlocked, contaminated site. How much will it cost to purchase and decontaminate? They offer no answers.
• Planned Town-wide initiatives will create more community buy-in than anything the CPA can do We urge you to Vote NO on Question 5.
Concerned Watertown Homeowners Association
Watertown Strong Schools
Watertown Strong Schools (WSS) is urging Watertown voters to Vote NO on ballot question #5 regarding the Community Preservation Act (CPA).
The funding needs of our schools should be Watertown’s highest priority at this time.
• All 5 of our schools are in urgent need of renovations and physical upgrades so that our buildings can support the overcrowding issues facing our Elementary schools and the high-quality 21st Century education that all our children deserve. Enrollment is projected to increase 9% over the next 10 years. For our already overcrowded Elementary schools, any increase can have a significant impact.
• The Watertown Public Schools (WPS) Draft Facilities Master Plan study has been released and will be discussed at a Steering Committee meeting on November 1. Initial cost estimates are that we will need at least $200 million to upgrade our school buildings.
• We believe that the passage of the CPA in November could jeopardize the ability of Watertown residents to vote in favor of a debt exclusion override that will be necessary in the next 1-2 years to partially fund these essential school renovations.
WSS is not taking a position against the merits of the CPA itself, but rather on the timing of the CPA ballot initiative.
• We agree that investment in preserving and enhancing our community in the areas of historic preservation, affordable housing, and parks and open spaces is a worthwhile goal.
• Nevertheless, at this time we do not see any of the needs or opportunities in these areas as rising to the same level of priority as the needed renovations of our schools.
• We suggest that the CPA discussion be postponed until Watertown finalizes its school building needs and secures the funding for their associated costs.
• The CPA can be put back on the ballot by a simple majority vote of the Town Council once the funding for the school renovations has been secured.
We acknowledge that Watertown residents come from a wide range of economic situations and that for many the decision may come down to affordability and priorities. We cannot presume that a majority will or can vote for both the CPA and school building renovations.
FY17 proposed tax classifications were recently released and the average residential property tax increase is projected to be 5.91%. If the CPA is passed, the increase will rise to nearly 8%. How many times will Watertown voters approve additional tax increases over a short period of time, given the FY16 increase of multi-family property taxes and the projected FY17 increases?
Historic preservation, open space, and affordable housing are all worthwhile efforts, just not at the expense of our aging and overcrowded schools. We are not willing to risk voters saying no to debt exclusion override in a few years to fund urgently needed future school building projects if the CPA passes — Are you?
WSS answers questions about our position on Question 5 in a letter and video.
Please visit www.watertownstrongschools.com for more information.
Submitted by Watertown Strong Schools