Yes on 5: Invest in Watertown Supports Passing Community Preservation Act


Vote Yes on #5

1) It does great things for communities!

161 towns have already adopted the CPA and not a one has repealed it. It has proven successful in meeting community needs, including protecting what is special while attracting even more funding from additional sources year after year.

Waltham has restored buildings and monuments. Belmont renovated its swimming pool. Cambridge has led the way in creating affordable housing. Get inspired by hundreds of projects listed at

2) Let’s stop giving our money away to other towns!

Watertown property owners and other taxpayers already pay toward the state CPA Trust Fund that matches the local surcharge. So far $2 million of our money hasgone to other communities that have joined the CPA such as Waltham, Belmont, Newton, Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville. Our money should come back to us!

3) The CPA surcharge is progressive!

The owner of an average home in Watertown will see a property tax surcharge of $124 per year, or $10 per month.  Owners of more expensive homes will pay more and owners of less expensive homes will pay less. Individuals with annual incomes under $51,150 ($68,670 for seniors) and couples or families with incomes under $58,450 ($78,480 for seniors) are completely exempt from the surcharge.

4) It will help protect what’s special about Watertown!

Faced with increasing density, a Yes on 5 will help us protect and expand open space and recreation, preserve our amazing history, and create affordable housing including rental assistance that will help to keep Watertown affordable for town employees, seniors, veterans, all of us.

5) It is participatory, collaborative, and transparent!

Anyone can work with the citizen-led committee and propose ideas. Final recommendations from this Watertown CPA committee are presented to the Town Council for approval after significant public input. While 10% of the funds would be designated to go to each of the three areas: open space/recreation, affordable housing and historic preservation, categories can be combined for mixed use projects and to partner with other organizations. This allows for even more creativity in problem solving. Required yearly public reports show taxpayers how every dollar is spent.

6) It’s good for the whole town, including the schools!

CPA money can be used for school playgrounds and playing fields, to preserve history so our kids can study right in their hometown, to make Watertown housing affordable for our teachers and other town employees. Newton uses some of their CPA funds to provide affordable housing for their city employees. Far from being in conflict with school funding, Yes on 5 will free up funds for school renovation and construction. Past expenditures for Victory Field, Filippello Park, and playgrounds at the schools themselves could have been covered by CPA funds. Current Filippello Park phase 2 still needs funding; Victory Field phase 2 needs to be designed and funded. These and other projects would no longer compete with schools for our limited town capital funds. Yes on 5 means we can start claiming the state CPA match now and invest in ways that will benefit the schools and all of us. When we have a school building plan, the fact that Watertown is funding other projects through the CPA and taking those expenditures off its capital budget will strengthen our case for future state funding and with the bond markets.

7) Why should we do this now with everything else going on in town?

There is an old adage, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today.” This is as true for investments as it is for trees. Yes on 5 is an investment in Watertown, a way to fully fund important initiatives and needs that often go overlooked or unfunded due to budget constraints. CPA is a time-tested joint venture with the state since 2000 that has proven successful and continues to grow in popularity. Let’s embrace the possibilities.

Watertown is changing fast. Community Preservation Act has inspired neighboring communities to address their needs in innovative ways year over year. It is time for Watertown to claim this benefit for all of us.

Vote Yes on 5!

Invest in Watertown

26 thoughts on “Yes on 5: Invest in Watertown Supports Passing Community Preservation Act

  1. Why not mention Brookline? It’s an apples to apples comparison. Our most liberal, progressive, wealthiest neighbor wisely voted down the CPA Tax 57% to 43%. Why? because of a looming school override. Sound familiar?

  2. A progressive tax ??? Tell that to the elderly person, living on a fixed income, whose rent will go up, when this REGRESSIVE tax is imposed !

    We’ll deal with the rest of the details later.

  3. Spin Control:
    Proponents state 161 cities and towns have approved the CPA Tax as a reason to approve it. What they left out of that statement is that 190 cities and towns have NOT approved the CPA Tax.

    Questions to consider:
    1. If the CPA is such a good deal then why have less than 45% of Massachusetts Cities and Towns approved it in the last ten years?
    2. Why is Metro West Colloborative Development of NEWTON funding the pro-CPA vote in Watertown?
    3. Why is Invest in Watertown requesting 2% CPA Tax when Boston is requesting 1%?
    4. Why did Brookline Vote No on the CPA?
    5. What will happen to the matching funds if our largest cities, Boston & Worcester, approve the CPA?
    (Hint: the matching fund, which is not guaranteed, will significantly decrease)
    6. How does raising everyone’s property taxes an additiinal 2% make Watertown any more affordable?

    For more info and questions about why you might want to VOTE NO on Question 5 check out this article in Commonwealth titled, “THE DOWNSIDE OF PROP 2 1/2 and THE COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT” @

  4. Why did Brookline Vote No on the CPA?
    Len, it lost 57% to 43% because it came on the heels of a looming school override vote. That’s why. Sound familiar?

    • Yes although we are not Arlington but Watertown and much more socially and economically diverse. I know folks in Arlington and they were not happy that they had one tax and then an override soon after. Arlington also has 2x number of students to Watertown(similar to Belmont in that case) which gives a larger school population base. For me it just is simple priorities to secure the funding for schools before a tax increase for CPA.

        • According to census data, Watertown’s percent of population under 18 years old is 15.5%, which is quite a bit under the state average of 21.7%. It is also lower than Arlington’s which is 20.8%. Passing a school debt exclusion in Watertown will be no easy task. It is about more than median incomes. Watertown has fewer students and school aged children than Arlington.

          • Who says we even need a debt exclusion – and how much? You’re right we have fewer school age children (which is why CPA makes even more sense), but we sure open our wallets for them. According to Mass Dept of Education in 2015 Watertown spent $20,134 to educate our average student. Arlington spent $13,400. With 2554 kids, that equates to Watertown shelling out $18 million more per year than Arlington would for the same amount of kids.

            Perhaps thats why Candace Miller, founder of your Watertown Strong Schools organization – and Watertown Strong Schools and School Committee member Kendra Foley – will be voting in the affirmative for the CPA.

          • The reason Watertown has a higher per pupil cost is because we have a higher percentage of students with disabilities (22.2% in 2015), while Arlington had 14% and 17.2% for the state average. As a result, Watertown spends a larger percentage of its total school budget on Special Education. In FY15, Watertown spent 31.9% compared to 23.6% for Arlington and 21.1% for the state average.

            Not sure how fewer school aged children means the CPA makes more sense. A well educated community benefits us all.

            Candace Miller and Kendra Foley were co-founders of WSS. There is nothing wrong with differing view points. WSS has shared our rationale, Candace and Kendra have the right to take any position they feel is best. We just disagree.

          • Thanks for the info on Special Ed costs, Alyson. I also remember outgoing Business Services Director Charles Kellner saying it is hard to compare per pupil spending because towns include different expenses in the calculations. For instance, some towns include the benefits for teachers, but others do not, because they are in an account funded by the town.

          • Strange to see someone credit WSS founders as in favor of #5 when WSS is the author of one NO on #5 articles posted here. Seems odd.

            Watertown Strong Schools

            Watertown Strong Schools (WSS) is urging Watertown voters to Vote NO on ballot question #5 regarding the Community Preservation Act (CPA).

        • Factchecker,
          Candace Miller founded Watertown Strong Schools in 2014. She is now a school committee member, therefore not an active member of the group. She supports question 5. Kendra Foley was also Watertown Strong Schools member, and is also a member of the School Committee. She also supports question 5.

  5. Arlington has actually passed several school debt exclusion overrides (1998, 2001, and 2016). They have also passed several non-school related overrides. They passed the CPA in 2014. Arlington is clearly more comfortable with overrides and tax increases. Watertown has passed only one debt exclusion back in 1995 for school upgrades. Watertown has not passed any other overrides or tax increases. Watertown and Arlington are not the same. Brookline has also passed several overrides in the past, yet they chose not to pass the CPA due to the funding needs of their schools. Each town is different in its needs and priorities.

  6. My issue with the CPA tax is who (a small group) will determine the projects. I understand anyone can present but what will be the priority? I think we need to look at expenses and find ways for the budget to be leaner before we try to raise more revenue (and I don’t mean cutting public safety at all). I am talking about using state contracts for cheaper deals. What are our procurement policies (Town and School)?
    And just thinking out loud, where does the match come from? Our MA state income tax? So we are giving money back to ourselves and potentially not putting the surplus into things like state roads and bridges?

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