A Summary of Why CPA

Here are the most important reasons to vote FOR the Community Preservation Act on November 8. Click the little green buttons to watch related videos from community members.

Burlington MA common

What is CPA?

  • A state program to encourage cities and towns to invest important areas that don’t get funded, such as
  • Protecting Open Space
  • Improving Recreation
  • Saving Historical Buildings
  • Creating Affordable Housing
  • CPA adds a local surcharge, which is augmented by state matching funds.

Facts about CPA for Burlington

  • The Burlington Master Plan Steering Committee recommended joining CPA as a town goal.
  • The Housing Partnership, a committee of The Select Board, recommended joining CPA.
  • The Selectboard voted unanimously to endorse joining CPA along with many other town boards.

What about the timing of CPA?

  • The YES CPA Committee pushed back this vote for two years due to COVID.
  • 9 other communities went ahead and passed CPA in 2020
  • We have lost state matching funds for the two years we did not join. In fact, for the 20 years we have not joined CPA we are have lost state matching funds.
  • Is the current inflation a good reason to vote no? With a crunch on budgets, the areas that CPA protects will be even more vulnerable during hard times: less money for saving buildings, less for affordable housing, etc. 

Is CPA a forced distortion of our town budget?

  • The annual town budget is about $160 million dollars. 
  • CPA would add about $2 million more, of which 20-40% would be state matching funds.
  • So CPA would add a small portion to the budget, NOT A TOTAL REALIGNMENT OF PRIORITIES. And that money is for specific, protected budget areas.
  • Some of the CPA spending for recreation could actually take the place of normal capital spending, so that portion would not increase spending, and comes with a partial state match.
Unity School

Will CPA force Burlington to spend too much on HISTORIC PRESERVATION?

  • Is it reasonable to increase spending from $10,600 to $220,000 per year?
  • WE ARE ALREADY SPENDING way more than $10,600 on historic neeeds: we spent $250,000 to make the historic museum accessible, which could have been CPA funds with a state match.
  • Our Police station, the former Union School, is a major historic building that MIGHT be saved, but CPA funds would be critical to saving it. Creating a showpiece of history in our town center, to compliment the Grandview Tavern, would depend on CPA passage.
  • Upkeep on Grandview, improvements to the 1666 Wyman House and preservation of other historic properties will depend on CPA funds.

Can CPA funds be used to improve EXISTING PARKS and RECREATION?

  • It has been widely put forth that CPA funds can not be used to improve our extensive park system, but THIS IS FALSE.
  • Every CPA community uses its funds to improve their parks and open spaces.
  • CPA can be a huge boost to our park spending, even replacing some of our existing capital spending with state-subsidized money.
  • WATCH what ACTON did for their parks with CPA funds.

Don't we already have plenty of AFFORDABLE HOUSING without CPA?

Why do we need CPA? Why can't we just fund the projects we care about?

  • CPA was started because critical services like schools, fire, police, and DPW force items that seem less critical out of budgets. 
  • We can fund these projects, but it will take a long time and at 100% of our dollars.  With the CPA, these types of projects can be completed quicker and with a state match that will stretch our dollars and will take less of our funds because of the state match.
  • We already have people on the waiting list for affordable housing.
  • We have lost historical buildings due to lack of funds, such a the Reverend Simonds house.
  • Our playing fields and playgrounds are simply not as good as those in nearby CPA towns. Recreation Commissioner Kevin Sullivan makes this point in his video.
simonds park

How will the CPA money be spent in Burlington?

  • The CPA law just requires us to spend 10% each on open space and recreation, historic preservation, and affordable housing.
  • So via a town community preservation committee and vote of Town Meeting, the other 70% can be spent on whichever of those areas the community wants to fund.
  • The state does not tell us where to put the money within the target areas.

What has happened with CPA in other towns?

  • The fact that among the 189 communities that passed CPA none has ever voted to leave, speaks to the popularity of the program.
  • Three towns, Hingham, Northampton, and Sturbridge all voted to KEEP their CPA status by margins of 60% to 70%.
  • Here short videos with town officials from other CPA towns:
cpa exemptions

What will CPA really cost you?

  • The average homeowner will pay about $78 per year in the surtax.
  • The opt-out levels are very generous.
  • Rents for businesses and apartments will go up, but by smaller amounts because real estate tax represents a small proportion of rent.
  • You can think of the CPA surtax as an investment in Burlington that will pay off with higher values for homes in a community with more amenities.

Is the CPA just letting the state control our agenda?

  • CPA will only affect about $2 million our of our $160 million town budget.
  • You can choose to view CPA as state interference, or you can view CPA as the Commonwealth giving us financial incentives to fund programs that most of us support:
    • Preserving Open Space
    • Better Recreation Facilities
    • Affordable Housing
    • Preserving Our History
yes on 5

Please vote YES!

  • Let’s join the 189 towns that are already getting the benefits of CPA, including the state match.
  • Please share this page with your friends and neighbors.