New Surtax Group Formed
By Joyce Westner
Sept. 21, 2023. [Amended on Sept. 22.] The Select Board’s newly formed Community Preservation Act (CPA) Study Committee met on Monday, Sept. 18, to get acquainted and plan their activities. The Zoom meeting was led by Select Board Member Mike Bettencourt who explained that Winchester can get a match from the Commonwealth if the town adopts a CPA surcharge on property taxes. According to Finance Committee member Brian Vernaglia, who was not at the meeting, the match varies each year, but can be from 15% to 40%.
Bettencourt told the committee that although a CPA surcharge can be up to 3% of property taxes, communities in Greater Boston lean toward a 1 or 1.5% amount, given the high property values in the area. The plan would be that the committee members would be assigned activities to raise public awareness on how the CPA tax would benefit the town, including helping to preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and help with playgrounds and recreation assets.
The CPA tax has been adopted by 55% of the state’s municipalities. Public outreach will begin this fall, after committee members develop information for widespread circulation. A report would be created to be presented at next Spring Town Meeting and if a CPA tax is approved by Town Meeting Members, it would go on the November 2024 ballot as a referendum item.
Members include representatives from other town committees, and include Bettencourt, Select Board Member Anthea Brady, Charlene Band on behalf of the Historic Commission, Michael Creame for the Fields Committee, Steve Campbell for the Housing Partnership Board, David Miller for the Conservation Committee, Hafiz Adamjee on behalf of the Finance Committee, CPA expert Jan Ryan as an at-large member, Michelle Bergstrom for the School Committee, Marty Jones for the Housing Partnership Board, the town’s sustainability director Ken Pruitt as an at-large member, and Town Manager Beth Rudolph. Band and Adamjee do not serve on the committees they represent but were asked by the committee chairs to join on their behalf.