LETTER: Town Does Not Need CPA, Should Be Able to Pay for Projects With Budget


Dear Watertown Friends and Neighbors,

Watertown is a well-run Town which is financially on stable ground with a 130 MILLION DOLLAR ANNUAL BUDGET to operate the 4.2 square miles which we call home. In the past decade we have built, or renovated, most our public buildings including the Police, Fire, DPW and Library. Our bond rating is among the best in the State of Massachusetts which allows our Town to borrow money at the lowest interest rates available. There is a lot to be happy about from a fiscal viewpoint and I applaud the elected officials and Town Employees who are responsible for that outcome.

Unfortunately, proponents of the CPA, including five of our Town Councilors (Palomba, Dushku, Feltner, Falkoff and Woodland) don’t think that is good enough. THEY WANT MORE AND THE WAY THEY ARE GOING TO DO IT IS BY RAISING YOUR PROPERTY TAX. Why not add a surcharge of 2% to everyone’s property tax bill because we can raise another TWO MILLION dollars per year to spend. BUT THERE’S ALWAYS A CATCH IN POLITICS WHICH REMINDS ME OF MAKING SAUSAGE. (i.e. you might like to eat it, but don’t ask how its made!) The catch in this case is that the CPA Funds can only be spent on three items, i.e. open space and recreation, affordable housing and historical preservation. What’s wrong with that you might ask? No one would dispute that these are worthy causes and need to be funded.

Here’s what the Proponents of the CPA don’t tell you:

1. The aforementioned items that the CPA funds are already in the Town Budget. The last time I checked we have a great Recreation Department run by Director Pete Centola and his staff. Historical Preservation is a line budget item. And Open Space begs the question of what open space? Affordable Housing has just been very loudly addressed by the Town Government when they voted to raise the number of affordable housing units mandated for new development from 10% to 15%. Let’s also note that the 15% mandate is among the highest numbers in the state to support affordable housing.

2. Proponents argue that 161 other communities in Massachusetts have approved the CPA. They don’t tell you that 190 communities have NOT APPROVED THE CPA.

3. Proponents argue that we are missing out on State Matching Funds. They don’t tell you that the matching funds are have gone down almost yearly. In 2005 the match was dollar for dollar. Last year the match was in the twenty-something percent range. They also don’t tell you that if Boston and/or Worcester approve the CPA then the matching funds will drop like a rock (again).

4. Proponents state that you are missing out on getting money that you paid to the matching fund trust. Well, that one is only half true. You only paid into the trust fund if you sold a home. If you didn’t sell a home then you paid nothing. The funds come from fees paid to the Registry of Deeds. And by the way, the way the Proponents, including Councilors Palomba, Dushku, Feltner, Falkoff and Woodland, propose that we access those funds is that YOU HAVE TO PAY A TAX TO GET THEM. Does that sound like free money?

5. A few weeks ago one of the aforementioned Town Councilors told me that, (quote) “THE CPA TAX IS NOT A TAX, IT’S A SURCHARGE.” That certainly made me feel better, but then I looked up the definition of a “Surcharge” which summed it up. A Surcharge is defined as “an excessive sum or price charged, an additional charge or tax.”

6. Another Town Councilor told me that housing prices in Watertown are too high which again we all can all agree with. However, what I found stunning was that said Councilor stated emphatically that the Town Council could lower housing prices through changes in local ordinances. Really? That is not reality, but I offered said Councilor some free legal advice. If anyone wants to permanently restrict the value of their property then they can place a deed restriction on it at the registry of deeds. To no surprise that offer was not accepted, (yet).

7. RED FLAG. Why are firms from Newton and California so involved in a Watertown Vote? The FACT, as announced this week by the Watertown Assessors Office, is that Watertown Property Taxes are projected to go up again this year. Before adding an additional 2% CPA TAX, property rates are expected to go up 5.92% (residential) and 9.88% (commercial). Last year property taxes went up between $800-$1000 on two family houses in Watertown. Adding an additional CPA TAX on top of the expected tax increase is a TAX ON A TAX and does nothing to make Watertown more affordable for anyone.

Yes, let’s fund Affordable Housing, Historical Preservation and Open Space/Recreation and let’s do it with our existing 130 Million Dollar Annual Town Budget. Every line item in our Town Budget could use an extra 2%. PLEASE JOIN ME AND VOTE NO ON QUESTION 5. While you’re at it you might mention to your Town Councilors that want to increase your taxes, “Thanks, but no thanks!” (By the way, did you know that the Town Council can vote to raise the CPA Tax to 3%? Neither did I until yesterday.)


Len Holt
Watertown Resident

5 thoughts on “LETTER: Town Does Not Need CPA, Should Be Able to Pay for Projects With Budget

  1. Way to go Len… and thanks for naming the Gang of Five. That’s all that needs to be said. All you have to do is look at how radical the rest of their agenda has been in the past to know they’ll approve every pin headed project the special interest controlled CPA shadow government board will propose. Hell, if these people could force us to use rickshaws instead of cars and tax people at a 101% of their income they’d do it. Let alone their total disregard for private property.

    They took an oath to uphold the Constitution, yet they ignore property rights that live and breath in 3rd, 4th, and 5th Amendment of the Constitution. Not to mention they believe they have the right to stifle Freedom of Expression guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, by telling them what their house ought to look like!

    The defense of private property is one the primary functions of government. That is unless your view of government is founded on principles foreign to this nation and most of Western Civilization, of which the United States was founded to be bulwark thereof.

    So you think this Gang of Five can be trusted with a $2.2 million annual slush fund, plush the ability to get the town further in to debt based on projected revenues????
    Then by all means vote yes. If on the other hand you are SANE… Vote NO on Question #5

    • Gang of five? 2.2 million dollar slush fund? Defense of private property? Western Civilization? Stifling the 1st Amendment? Special Interest controlled CPA shadow government? The stuff of pulp novels, not of real life debate.

      This is the kind of inflamed and ridiculous rhetoric that has made the quality of this debate so nasty and uninformative. Mostly a lot of overheated rhetoric with no substantiation. And the real issues have been all but ignored.

      Sensible voters should ignore such irresponsible and divisive arguments.

  2. Len,
    A real nice and logical response regarding the CPA debate and I completely agree with your assessment especially the part where out town government already covers all three of the CPA areas in its yearly budget. I will only add that there are many families in Watertown that the CPA tax will hurt. They are renters, and in some cases home owners with young families who will not qualify for an exemption to the CPA tax, and will have to give up on other family necessities if they have to pay it. That does not make Watertown more affordable.
    Please Vote No on Question 5. Donate your own money to charities of your choice and do not force your choices on others.

  3. The 3rd Amendment regards the government being unable to quarter soldiers in our houses. Not entirely sure how that fits.

    Actually, none of anyone’s Constitutional rights are being inhibited or threatened by the CPA. Dislike it all you want, but get facts correct.

    (I will be voting No on the CPA)

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