Skip to content

Community Preservation surtax discussed at Town Meeting

Table of Contents

By Alison Swallow Nov. 18, 2023

At the final session of Fall Town Meeting on Thursday night, members heard an update on the town’s progress towards adopting the Community Preservation Act (CPA), a state-sponsored program that helps towns raise funds for a variety of capital projects.  According to member Anthea Brady, the Select Board has been discussing the program for the past two years, and planning the best time to bring it before town meeting. Once adopted, the CPA would consist of a tax surcharge not to exceed 3% of homeowners’ tax bills, which would be matched by money from the state. The Select Board plans to conduct public outreach between now and spring, and anticipates bringing an article before town meeting in the spring of 2024.  A town-wide vote would follow in November 2024.

Select Board Member Michael Bettencourt next presented the financial impact of adopting the CPA.  “At the core of the Community Preservation Act is a surcharge on residents... for different uses which are in high demand and are underfunded at the local level. Certainly, we’ve seen playgrounds [and] historical buildings here that need financial support.” By law, 10% of the money has to go into certain buckets, including affordable housing, outdoor spaces and recreation, and historic preservation. 

A committee would recommend other items for the balance of the funds, and these items would have to be approved by town meeting.  Bettencourt indicated that the town would most likely select an initial surcharge of 1.5 percent, exempt all low-income and commercial/industrial properties from the surcharge, and take $100,000 off all residential property tax amounts before applying the surcharge.  In year one, this would generate approximately $1.5 million in surcharge revenue and an estimated $306,000 in matching funds based on the most recent match of 20 percent (the match percentage fluctuates yearly depending on state revenues).  This would equate to an average surcharge of $194 annually on a $1,230,077 house (after taking off the top $100,000). 

The CPA Study Committee estimated that in the first five years of adopting the CPA, cumulative revenue could be anywhere from $3.1 million to $15.7 million including the estimated match, based on surcharge rates ranging from 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent.  According to Bettencourt, potential CPA projects in Winchester could include the renovation of town hall, replacing the library roof and windows, and replacing the chiller equipment at Lincoln elementary school—all needed capital projects that have been waiting years for funding. 

Alison Swallow is a Precinct 8 Town Meeting Member.

Latest

Jenks talks on environmental issues

Jenks talks on environmental issues

Jenks speakers address optimization of major decision making and current events shaping the Commonwealth’s energy and environmental future. By John Brown, Ron Latanision, and Walter Hubbard  On March 8, Rich Adler, founder of DecisionPath, joined us to follow up on his February 2023 presentation, speaking this time on “Revisiting

How well do you know Winchester?

How well do you know Winchester?

Last time was very tricky but our all-time champ, Michael Arwe, gets honorable mention for figuring out what it was (with a hint from yours truly). See last week’s to refresh your memory. Arwe emailed, “I did the Main Street bridge, the Waterfield Road bridge, the Mt. Vernon Street

Pony rides on Winchester Common

Pony rides on Winchester Common

The following was submitted by Preschool Social Academy: On Saturday, April 27, get ready to have some fun with pony rides on Winchester Common, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the corner of Church Street and Waterfield Road. The event will happen either rain or

Health Department to host tent for Safe Disposal Day, April 27

Health Department to host tent for Safe Disposal Day, April 27

The following was submitted by the Health Department: On Saturday, April 27, the Health Department and the Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community will have a tent outside the Transfer Station gate, 15 McKay Ave., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Safe Disposal Day, or DEA National