Frequently Asked Questions

CPA SURCHARGE

  • Where do the funds come from?
  • How much revenue will CPA generate each year?
  • Does everyone have to pay the surcharge?
  • How much will CPA cost the typical small business owner?
  • What’s in it for small businesses?

CPA EXPENDITURES

  • How Are CPA Funds Spent?
  • How much of the CPA funds will be spent on each of the three purposes in Boston?
  • Can CPA funds be used to match a private or public grant?
  • I do want to hear about what other CPA communities have done. Where can I find this information?

COMMUNITY PRESERVATION COMMITTEE

  • Who gets to decide how the money will be spent?
  • Who is on the Community Preservation Committee?
  • How will I know how CPA funds are spent?
  • Who can apply for CPA funds?

HOUSING

  • Affordable housing is great but affordable for whom?
  • Who will decide who is eligible for an affordable home created by CPA?

PARKS

  • What types of park projects can CPA fund?
  • Can CPA help the City plan for climate change impacts?
  • Can park funds be used for routine maintenance?

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

  • What types of historic preservation projects could CPA fund?
  • Is there a long-term benefit or will these historic buildings be repaired then sold and the restoration work for naught?

VOTE YES ON NOVEMBER 8!

  • When is Election Day?
  • Where is CPA on the ballot?
  • Are there early voting options?
  • Why should I vote YES?

CPA SURCHARGE

Where do the funds come from?
Community Preservation Act funds come from two sources: (1) a local property tax surcharge, and (2) a statewide CPA Trust Fund that provides matching funds to communities that adopt CPA.

How much revenue will CPA generate each year?
Boston would generate at least $20 million every year for CPA projects, including annual matching funds from the state.

Does everyone have to pay the surcharge?
No. CPA has protections in place for our most vulnerable residents. If voters adopt CPA, then the following exemptions will be in effect: (1) the first $100,000 of the assessed value of property, (2) low-income families (below $78,800 for a family of four), and (3) low- to moderate-income seniors (below $78,800 for two-person household).

How much will CPA cost the typical small business owner?
Most small business owners will pay a surcharge of between $100-$250 per year, a modest cost for making Boston a better place to live and work.

What’s in it for small businesses?
Small businesses will see the benefits of new investments in their neighborhoods. New and improved parks and historic preservation projects will be invested in Main Streets districts across the city making shopping areas more attractive for residents, visitors and businesses. Customers and employees will have new affordable housing options enabling them to stay in their neighborhoods.


CPA EXPENDITURES

How Are CPA Funds Spent?
The Community Preservation Act enables Massachusetts cities and towns to collect and set aside dedicated funds for three purposes: (1) affordable housing, (2) parks and open space, and (3) historic preservation.

How much of the CPA funds will be spent on each of the three purposes in Boston?
Under the state law, 10% of CPA funds have to be spent or set aside annually for each of these three purposes. The other 70% can be divided up among the three categories.

Can CPA funds be used to match a private or public grant?
Yes, CPA can be used as the required match for local, state, federal and private grants and other investments.

I do want to hear about what other CPA communities have done. Where can I find this information?
So far, CPA has raised $1.6 billion for 161 cities and towns, creating more than 8,100 projects in CPA communities around the state. CPA is a flexible and popular smart growth tool – CPA has never been repealed by any city or town that has adopted it. The statewide Community Preservation Coalition maintains an excellent website that includes a searchable database of CPA projects from across the state. Visit www.communitypreservation.org.


COMMUNITY PRESERVATION COMMITTEE

Who gets to decide how the money will be spent?
After CPA is adopted by Boston voters on November 8, 2016, the City Council will draft and pass an ordinance, with significant public input. That ordinance will create a new Community Preservation Committee (CPC). The CPC’s job is to review project proposals and make recommendations to the City Council about CPA spending, and the City Council will vote on the projects that may receive CPA funds.

Who is on the Community Preservation Committee?
In accordance with state law, the CPC must be comprised of five to nine members. Mayor Walsh will appoint five members from existing city boards and commissions (http://www.cityofboston.gov/boardsandcommissions/Default.aspx), and up to four additional members will be appointed by the City Council. The Yes for a Better Boston Committee will advocate for a CPC that is comprised of individuals who represent neighborhood interests and who reflect the diversity of our city. The YES for a Better Boston Committee intends to continue our work after the election as CPA is implemented, to ensure diversity, transparency, and accountability in this process.

How will I know how CPA funds are spent?
CPA requires a public, transparent decision making process. Every project that is funded by CPA dollars across the state can be viewed on a useful statewide website – http://communitypreservation.org/projectsdatabaseaccess – and the same will be true in Boston. Individual residents and community-based organizations will have multiple opportunities to advocate for and against projects and programs that they believe deserve funding. YES for a Better Boston intends to stay together after the election on November 8, 2016 to ensure that all neighborhoods and residents, including low- and moderate income residents, fully benefit from the passage of CPA in Boston.

Who can apply for CPA funds?
Anyone! The state law does not restrict who can apply for CPA project funds. However, the project must be used to create new, affordable homes; restore and preserve historic resources; and develop and improve outdoor recreational opportunities. All projects must provide a clear public benefit.


HOUSING

Affordable housing is great but affordable for whom?
CPA dollars can be used to benefit households making up to 100% of area median income. In Boston that is $96,000 for a family of four. The YES for a Better Boston Committee will advocate for Boston’s Community Preservation Committee to spend housing dollars on a range of incomes from very low to moderate income. CPA funds will also be combined with state and federal dollars that have different requirements than CPA, such as that homes that are affordable to people making closer to $30,000 to $60,000. CPA can create both rental and homeownership opportunities for families, seniors, veterans and others struggling to afford today’s high housing prices.

Who will decide who is eligible for an affordable home created by CPA?
All affordable housing built with CPA will be rented or sold through a public lottery process, as required by fair housing laws.


PARKS

What types of park projects can CPA fund?
CPA dollars can be used to create and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities for everyone throughout the city. CPA funds can be used to acquire and preserve open space to protect rivers, ponds and beaches; and to create and improve parks, playgrounds, ball fields, greenways, dog parks, splash pads, shade trees, gardens and farms.

Can CPA help the City plan for climate change impacts?
Yes. CPA can be used to create “green infrastructure” to protect Boston from climate change impacts. Green infrastructure can be designed to absorb rainfall to reduce flooding, while providing shady green spaces that reduce heat and summer energy use. Greenways can also provide carbon-free transportation and link residents to popular destinations and each other.

Can park funds be used for routine maintenance?
No. CPA funds must be used for capital projects and cannot be used for operations and maintenance.


HISTORIC PRESERVATION

What types of historic preservation projects could CPA fund?
Boston is in many ways defined by, and attracts and retains residents and visitors due to its historic buildings and resources. Yet as more people move to Boston, and new development occurs, CPA will be an essential tool to help retain the character of our neighborhoods. CPA funds will restore and rehabilitate historic buildings for existing and new uses. Underutilized historic buildings throughout the city can be adapted for new uses. Commercial building storefronts in neighborhood commercial blocks will be restored while their upper floors are once again occupied for affordable housing. CPA can fund traditional preservation work such as restoration of landmark buildings, monuments, structures, statues, or even priceless artifacts.

Is there a long-term benefit or will these historic buildings be repaired then sold and the restoration work for naught?
A preservation deed restriction is required to assure these buildings remain preserved into the future. This is a long-term public benefit of expenditure of CPA funds for historic preservation. Not only do we preserve a building for now but we assure it will be an important contributor to the residents of Boston in the future.


VOTE YES ON NOVEMBER 8!

When is Election Day?
Boston voters can vote Yes on Question 5 on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Where is CPA on the ballot?
CPA will appear as question number 5 on the ballot – the last item on the ballot.

Are there early voting options?
Yes! From October 24 through November 4, voters can to mail ballots to the Elections Department or vote at any early voting location around the City. Unlike traditional polling on November 8th, voters are not assigned to one location during the early voting period and can visit a location that is most convenient for them. For a full list of voting times and locations, visit the City of Boston website. (https://www.boston.gov/news/mayor-walsh-announces-early-voting-locations-november-8-presidential-election)

Why should I vote YES?
CPA is an excellent way for Boston voters to take control and to improve quality of life for existing residents and future generations. It will provide much-needed dedicated funds for critical projects that otherwise might not receive funding. CPA will create thousands of new, affordable homes for families, seniors, veterans and others; improve our parks and playing fields to get residents and children outside; and, preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings and other underutilized historic resources to improve and maintain the character of our neighborhoods. CPA is a proven tool that creates jobs year-to-year, and will improve our main streets districts. A YES vote is a vote for a Better Boston.