By Bill Lynch
FRAMINGHAM – Preserving open space.
Restoring historical properties.
Helping community housing.
Sexy isn’t it. And I say sexy because it’s sexy for people to want to support those things. But at what cost?
Question 3 will ask residents to voluntarily pay an additional 1% in property taxes to the Community Preservation Act. This fund would spend all monies collected on those previously mentioned items. Just how this money will be spent, and who will spend it? Who knows…and therein lies the problem. Almost everyone that I have spoken to does not have a problem with the IDEA behind the CPA. The problem is 3-fold.
1) The timing is wrong. We are in the middle of a pandemic, with no end in sight. Businesses are closing, people are being evicted, and unemployment is at an all time high. Is this the right time to ask for residents to pay more? Is this the right time to force businesses to pay more, as they close 1 by 1 because of the pandemic? Probably not. But the CPA study group was told at one of their first meetings, that their chances of winning a were better if it was voted on during the general election vote. So here we are.
2) There is no way of knowing what the money will be spent on. Sure, we know it must be spent on 1 of the 3 items. And there are even more rules within each item. Will the money be given to SMOC? (Yes, they are completely eligible to receive CPA money). Will the money be used for a bike path on the Northern edge of the city? Will we give buckets of cash to the Framingham Housing Authority? The truth is, we just do not know ahead of time. And we have zero say in how it is spent.
3) We do not know who will be spending our extra tax dollars. We do know that the board must consist of at least 5 members from various city departments. Exactly who will be determined by the Mayor. There “May” be up to 4 additional citizens on the board, also appointed by the mayor. Those 4 are then approved by the council. Whatever the mystery board decides to use the money on, goes in front of the City Council, and they either approve or deny.
Proponents on the YES side continually say that we have been putting money into this fund for 20 years, and it’s about time we reap the benefits. Well, that is not entirely true, and very skewed and here is why. The statewide CPA is funded completely by monies collected from the registry of deeds. If you
have not written a check to the registry of deeds, then you have not contributed to the fund.
“Framingham” isn’t sending money to the CPA, the registry of deeds is.
And the last BIG reason to question the CPA, is because of the “State Match”. For year one, the state will match 20% of whatever the towns and cities raise. This is for “year one”, and there is no guarantee that it will be that high ever again. As a matter of fact, in 2017 and 2018, the state match was only 11%. At that time, the state injected $10 million into the fund to bump it up to 17%. The ONLY reason the state was able to do this, was because of a state surplus of revenue.
Congressman Lynch has said that the state will run a 3 to 6-BILLION-dollar deficit this year. Our state legislators have all signed on to YES for
the CPA which is puzzling. On one hand, they are supporting bills to keep renters from being evicted, and on the other hand, they are ok with landlords paying more in taxes, which they will be passing onto their tenants.
Some other random facts that people should know about the CPA:
When put to a vote of the people, it only passes 75% of the time.
Once voted in, you are locked in for at least 5 years. However, the percentage you are required to pay could go up 300% by way of another vote. (This just happened in the town of Ayer)
Low income and age based low income residents are not required to pay, but no one knows the process for that. Admittedly, the YES for CPA study group has not done a great deal of reaching out to these residents, or the business community.
The AVERAGE increase for residential properties is said to be $50 per year. $160 for commercial, and $650 for industrial properties.
Only half the cities and town have adopted CPA, yet 75% of the state has already tackled the issue.
The LEGISLATIVE BODIES have introduced the CPA to MANY of cities and towns. Don’t think for a second that all these communities have voted it in.
The CPA study group is on record saying there is NO evidence of property values rising because of the CPA.
The Framingham Housing Authority said that they have the infrastructure in place to take advantage of the CPA but are concerned about the palatability of the CPA for the city voters.
CPA study group has admitted that they were trying to get this done now, because the chances of passing it would go down during local elections.
In closing, last year, the residents of Framingham voted to pay an additional $100 per year for the Fuller Middle School project. I voted YES to that, knowing full well that school being built or not, would not affect me in any way shape or form. I’m a middle-aged man with a grown child, and I would never set foot on that property. I voted YES because I knew it was important to other people, and most importantly, I knew EXACTLY how my money would be spent.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with CPA question 3. There are a couple of LARGE charitable foundations in this city that have already taken full advantage of the state regulations and I refuse to give them even more of my money if I don’t have to.
Now is not the right time for CPA in Framingham.
Please vote NO on the on Nov 3.
Bill Lynch is a Framingham resident from District 7. He has created the Vote NO on 3 against the Community Preservation Act in Framingham Facebook page.