The Woburn CPA Campaign

The article below was featured on www.conservationcampaign.org about the CPA ballot election campaign in Woburn.

About the Campaign

On November 4, voters in Woburn, Massachusetts, will decide whether to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) and implement a 1% CPA surcharge on local property tax bills. The City Council approved the measure at its June 17 meeting. If passed, the surcharge is projected to raise roughly $715,000 a year in local CPA funds and generate an annual CPA state match for use on local projects.

The CPA allows cities and towns to approve a surcharge of up to 3% on real property taxes and create a dedicated funding source for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and recreation. Since 2012, municipalities can also use CPA funds to rehabilitate existing parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, and other recreation areas, a popular use of the program’s funds, especially in urban areas.

So far, 155 Massachusetts municipalities have adopted the CPA. Communities participating in CPA receive annual distributions from the state’s CPA Trust Fund based on the amount of funds raised locally. And unlike disbursement funds in other states, the CPA Trust Fund is well funded. On June 30, 2014, the state legislature for the second year in a row approved a $25 million transfer from the state’s budget surplus to the CPA Trust Fund, to bolster the fund. The main revenue source for the fund has traditionally been document recording fees charged at the state’s Registries of Deeds, but these revenues have diminished in recent years with the decline in the real estate market.

If the Woburn measure passes, the annual CPA surcharge for an average single family homeowner will be approximately $25. The first $100,000 of each homeowner’s assessed property value will be exempt from the surcharge.

What's At Stake

In 2002, Woburn residents voted down an attempt to adopt CPA at the maximum 3% surcharge. More than a decade later, the benefits of CPA have become increasingly apparent, as neighboring towns – and nearly half the communities in the state, – have combined locally raised CPA funds with the state match for numerous open space, recreation, historic preservation, and affordable housing projects. Nearby municipalities, including Lexington, Bedford, and Somerville, have all adopted CPA. Since the act was passed in 2000, over 6,600 CPA projects have been completed with $1.3 billion generated statewide.

CPA revenue could address a number of open space and historic preservation needs in Woburn, including the preservation of the Woburn Public Library, a town landmark and National Historic Landmark, and other historic sites. CPA could also be used to improve Horn Pond, recreational space, the town’s historic cemeteries, and the Civil War memorial.

Further Resources

>> Learn more about how CPA would impact Woburn in the Middlesex East article "Is the Community Preservation Act right for Woburn?"

>> Click here to read the Woburn Advocate artice "Preservation on ballot."