July 27, 2017 City Moves to Implement Community Preservation Act
With the City of Boston’s new fiscal year 2018 beginning July 1st, you may have noticed the new Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge on your first quarter tax bill. In November, Bostonians overwhelmingly approved a 1% property tax-based surcharge on residential and business property taxes which will be devoted to historic preservation, open space, and affordable housing projects in Boston.
This surcharge is calculated by the value of your home, less $100,000, on which gross tax is calculated and applicable residential or personal exemptions are applied. The remaining amount is referred to as the revised net tax; the CPA surcharge is 1% of this amount, billed over four quarters. CPA is expected to cost the average homeowner in Boston $24 annually and the funds are spent by the Community Preservation Committee.
CPA was first authorized by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2000 and since has been adopted by 161 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. Boston now joins the cities of Cambridge, Somerville, Fall River, New Bedford, Springfield, Pittsfield, Salem, Malden, Medford, and Quincy, in applying a modest surcharge on its property taxes to specifically fund historic preservation projects, expansion of affordable housing, open space acquisitions for conservation and recreation, and creation and improvement of parks and playgrounds. One of the most exciting aspects of CPA is funds generated for these specific uses will be matched by the Commonwealth. Altogether, Boston is expected to generate $20 million annually. Of that amount, at least 10% of the annual raise must be devoted to each of CPA?s areas of focus. That means at least $2 million of the annual CPA raise will be directed to historic preservation projects.
Each community’s deployment of CPA funds are guided by State legislation that requires a CPA Committee be established locally. The guidelines also allow for hiring of staff to oversee the application for and award of funds to appropriate projects. Mayor Walsh and the Boston City Council are currently negotiating how to appoint appropriate individuals to the open seats on the Committee. Yes Better Boston (YBB), the grassroots coalition that created the successful CPA campaign, is advocating that the City Council grant 3 of the 9 available seats on the Community Preservation Committee to individuals nominated by an open, inclusive process organized by YBB. Historic Boston Inc. is represented on the Yes for a Better Boston committee.
It is expected that appointments of Committee members and staff will be completed this summer and that the first applications for projects will be issued this fall.
For more information on the Community Preservation Act please visit: https://www.boston.gov/community-preservation-act
**Update** As of July 29, 2017 Mayor Walsh announced the appointment of Christine Poff, formerly of the Franklin Park Coalition, as director of Boston’s CPA Office.