An article was before the May 16th Town Meeting for the Town of Burlington to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA).
William Boivin, Vice-Chair of the Conservation Commission, presented that property taxes traditionally fund the day to day of town operations; police, fire, schools, health care funds, etc. The CPA establishes a dedicated funding source that enables CPA communities to improve their quality of life in the areas of open space, recreation, historical preservation, drinking water and affordable housing.
Massachusetts funds the CPA with fees from property transactions. Burlington has been paying into the CPA funding since it was enacted in 2000. However much the town has paid into the CPA annually, the state pays a percentage of back to the town for CPA uses. 189 cities and towns are CPA communities in Massachusetts.
If established, a CPA Committee would be formed according to Town Meeting approved bylaw. The committee is required to have 5 members from the Recreation, Conservation and Historical Commissions as well as the Housing Authority and the Planning Board. There can also be an additional 4 members. The CPA Committee would vet all proposed CPA projects before bringing them to Town Meeting for approval. Boivin pointed out any and all CPA funds are dispersed by Town Meeting.
“Town Meeting approves every penny that comes out of the CPA,” Boivin told the assembly.
The CPA is paid for by a fixed 1.5% increase on the annual property tax as assessed in fiscal year 2024, roughly $75 increase per property tax bill. Exemptions from the increase are those who qualify for low-income housing or low-or-moderate-income senior housing and certain industrial properties. Annual distributions are made by the state from a trust fund created for CPA’s. Only communities that adopt the CPA receive a distribution from this state trust fund.
Town Meeting voted 38 to 11 to place the CPA on the November ballot where voters will decide whether Burlington becomes a Community Preservation Act community.
Boivin said they plan to implement education on the CPA to the general public by addressing the public meetings of Burlington’s boards and commissions.