Mayor outlines next steps on adoption of Community Preservation Act

On November 17, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

With 75 percent voter approval on Nov. 6, Somerville to establish local ordinance, create local committee with power to recommend projects for funding by added annual revenues of $1.5 Million; Alderman must approve all CPA spending for historic preservation, recreation and open space, and affordable housing   

Ten days after Somerville voters overwhelmingly approved local ballot Question 4, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone today announced the city’s next steps in creating the local mechanisms to implement the Community Preservation Act (CPA).  As directed by the enabling state legislation, the Curtatone Administration will propose a local ordinance establishing a nine-member Community Preservation Committee to begin the process of developing recommendations to allocate additional revenues that the City will begin receiving under the terms of the state’s CPA law.  The total annual amount raised under the CPA will vary with the city’s total property tax revenues and the amount of money disbursed by the state’s CPA fund to participating communities.  Based on current property tax assessments in Somerville and on this year’s rate of disbursement from the state fund, Somerville’s Board of Assessors estimated that, had the CPA been in place this year, the city would have accrued over $1.5 million in additional funding for the three specific purposes covered by the CPA law: historic preservation; open space and recreation; and affordable housing.

“Somerville’s voters have approved our participation in the CPA by a three-to-one margin, and I know the Board of Aldermen is ready to work with me to fast-track this law onto the books,” said Curtatone.  “The elections results will be certified on November 21.  In the meantime, I plan to sit down with representatives of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Coalition, which is the non-profit that serves as a statewide clearinghouse for information and analysis of local CPA initiatives.   Before we develop a local ordinance, we’ll want to get their recommendations on best practices for setting up and administering a CPA program.”

“As for establishing a local Community Preservation Committee, the state says we need between five and nine members,” Curtatone said.  “My plan is to create a nine-member committee that includes all of the members mandated by state statute, including one member each from the Conservation Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission, the City’s Planning Board and the Somerville Housing Authority.”

“As for the types of projects that will be funded with CPA revenue, it’s important to remember that the new committee will take the lead in analyzing options and setting priorities,” Curtatone said. “Their recommendations will go to the Board of Aldermen for further review and it would be premature to start discussing specifics now.”

The Community Preservation Act Enabling Statute (Mass. General Laws Ch. 44B) specifies that a participating community must spend “not less than 10 per cent of the annual revenues in the Community Preservation Fund for open space, not less than 10 per cent of the annual revenues for historic resources and not less than 10 per cent of the annual revenues for community housing. In each fiscal year, the legislative body shall make appropriations from the Community Preservation Fund as it deems necessary for the administrative and operating expenses of the community preservation committee and such appropriations shall not exceed 5 per cent of the annual revenues in the Community Preservation Fund.”

The measure approved by Somerville voters calls for a 1.5 percent surcharge on each real property tax bill.  Property tax percentage rates are not affected, and the additional surcharge is calculated only after all allowable exemptions have been applied – including a $100,000 exemption provided under the terms of the CPA statute.  Calculations by the Somerville Board of Assessors show that, based on current rates the additional amount paid by the average single family homeowner would be approximately $33, with the average condo owner paying approximately $17.00, and average two-family and three-family owners paying an additional $49 and $61, respectively.

“I think the voters understood that the Community Preservation Act would give us the ability to make some major public investments at a modest cost,” said Curtatone.  “Our challenge now is to make the most of this new revenue source in a transparent and inclusive way that maximizes value to the community as a whole.  Given the number of historic structures and recreational facilities in this community, and the affordable housing goals we’ve laid out within the SomerVision comprehensive plan, we’ll have lots of eligible options.”


14 Responses to “Mayor outlines next steps on adoption of Community Preservation Act”

  1. rick says:

    Curtatone, how about you stop giving all your boys at city hall raises instead of raising taxes

  2. A. Moore says:

    One of the advantages of being old and poor, I don’t get stuck with this one.

  3. This wasn’t implemented by the administration. Somerville voters selected to adopt this on Election Day. Also, the raises were approved by the Board of Aldermen after numerous meetings and compelling data.

    It’s Ok if you disagree with the Mayor, just make a valid argument if you’re going to comment publicly.

  4. Bill says:

    @ Courtney – You are correct that it was “implemented” by the voters however, it was created by this Mayor and this Administration. 70% of the funds collected is discretionary and time will show, as history has proved, that the money will go elsewhere.

    As far as the Mayor’s raise goes, you’ve been to enough meetings and around politics enough to know how it works. If he didn’t want that raise as he claimed then he would have extracted it from the report before it was sent to the Board. Also, you know as well as I do that his minions on the Board who can’t sneeze without the Mayor’s permission and help were working with him all along. Also, even after it was approved he WOULDN’T have TAKEN it if he didn’t want it.

  5. Bill, what do you mean it was created by this Mayor and this administration? Could you offer a little clarity? I ask because I saw it passed in other communities, as well.

    He knew once the compensation advisory committee was reconvened and the study requested, that his salary would be up for discussion, as well. However, there are a couple of members of the Board of Aldermen that have made him wait for decisions before and if they deemed his raise unjustified, they would have held it up. Attending those meetings, I will say that they certainly took their time, requested further research and documentation. I will admit that I did know it was a slam dunk for him, you’re right 😉

  6. Jimmy B says:

    Any guesses on the members he chooses? Are these paid positions? Do folks get paid to determine how and where to pay taxes?

  7. j. connelly says:

    Reality is that all you hear from city hall repeatedly is about the financial crisis that we are in. The State is cutting funding, the federal government is cutting funding.

    The Mayor refused to renew the “SAFER” grant which brings in federal dollars, once you do this the federal government moves your city to the bottom of the aid list as you refused $$ they offered. Benefits are cut for the regular city employees, retirees, yet taxpayers costs are needlessly increasing.

    Meanwhile the mayor, like Nero, is chuckling (tho joe can’t play the fiddle) on the hill while the city burns away because of his plays. He has suckered the people, discriminated against the majority, and taken care of his pals all at the expense of the taxpayers. Taken a pay raise he does not deserve and the BOA (Some who do do a good job but…) a part-time job, have given both the mayor and themselves raises that are more than they gave to the full time city workers…. The people who DO the WORK and DESERVE the raises. It is wrong, unjust, corrupt and unfair.

  8. j. connelly says:

    “A. Moore”….Sorry to hear the “poor” part but I did not think that you were
    really “old”. Well look at the bright side, there’s a chance that “Twinkies” will be making a come back. That should put a smile on your face and on Archie Bunker’s too….lol

  9. A. Moore says:

    The poor part is just this economy. Many around me are having the same problem. Reduced pay, same hours and higher expenses. You know how these tight fiscal times go. I actually don’t remember ever having a twinkie except on the field trip at Bingham. Once when we wandered over there some people on the back gave us some snoballs. I seem to recall they were chocolate but that was so long ago. But you are right, the litte guys in the city should have gotten a piece of the action. I can’t wait to see where this money really goes.

  10. Bill says:

    @Courtney – Sorry, Submitted would be a better word.

  11. teelesquaremayor says:

    I told my tenants that the rent would be increased if this question passed and I sent the email out on wednesday with the increase starting Jan. 1st. I think if more landlords did the same thing this might have been closer

  12. j. connelly says:

    “A Moore” I know where you are coming from. 6 years ago my boss went for a merger with an out of state company, next thing you know we were all out of work in MA as they moved everything to NY. They kept the boss for several months till one of their NY people learned the MA sales territory…then gave the boss the boot too. I fought them for my secretary and myself for vacation/holiday pay and demanded severance pay and at least I gained that out of them…funny how words like “attorney general” work remarkably well at times.

  13. j. connelly says:

    Still could not get an answer as to who gets the “finders fees” for all these Bonds the mayor floats. I gave up on getting an answer from the city so I put in a request from a higher aurthority.

  14. Thanks, Bill.

    Of course, the Mayor would promote this passing as it matches State funds with City funds and can be used towards the specified initiatives of historical preservation, open space and affordable housing.

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