Most Massachusetts voters have heard about four of the statewide ballot questions. But in some cities and towns, including Boston and Springfield, there’s a fifth referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. For this question, voters will decide whether to adopt the Community Preservation Act.
What is the Community Preservation Act?
The act debuted in 2000. It imposes a small increase in property taxes for most homeowners. The money raised would be earmarked for building affordable housing, restoring historic landmarks, and improving parks and recreation. Supporters say adopting the act could raise $20 million annually in Boston. Across the state, more than 160 cities and towns have already adopted it.
How much would the tax be?
In Boston, it would add a 1 percent tax on homeowners. On average, organizers say, this would equal a $24 increase to a person’s property tax bill. The City of Boston debuted a calculator to help homeowners figure out the price increase.
Does this apply to all homeowners?
No. The law makes exemptions for low-income and senior homeowners.
Haven’t we seen this before?
Yes. According to state law, communities need to pass the act locally before it can be implemented. In 2001, Boston voters rejected it by a convincing margin. This is the second time the matter has been called for a local vote.
This time around, who supports the act?
Community groups have secured endorsements from nearly all local politicians, including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. All but one city councilor have also endorsed it.
Who opposes the act?
City Councilor Bill Linehan is the only local elected official who has publicly opposed the act. Linehan says the city already is too reliant on property taxes. Other research bureaus and taxpayer-advocacy groups, many of which opposed it in 2001, have stayed neutral.
So it will pass?
Supporters are confident. Still, community groups have held rallies on City Hall Plaza and with Walsh to ensure voter enthusiasm.Astead W. Herndon can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AsteadWH