There will be a presentation on the community preservation act (CPA) at the Select Board meeting on Tuesday 9/26/2023. The packet for that meeting is here and the slides associated with this CPA are on pages 10-16 of the packet and included separately below.
Because FINCOM (of which I am a member) is invited to this presentation, I will not provide opinions on whether the CPA is good for Reading – I honestly do not know and need to learn more – I will simply note the facts that are apparent from the presentation itself as well as some facts about neighbors who have recently considered CPA and facts about the Killam debt exclusion vote timeline.
It appears the slides being presented are re-used or adapted from the town of Winchester – they thank Winchester Select Board for the slides – , and some of the actions listed appear to be actions that took place in Winchester, but it is not clear from the presentation whether or not they also have taken place here (e.g., a slide saying “A Working Group has met…” – not clear if that happened in Winchester only or has happened already in Reading”. )
One note of interest is the bullet point in the slide appearing on page 13 of the packet, which states that:
Community Preservation Coalition recommends putting on the ballot on a Presidential Election cycle.
(this “Community Preservation Coalition” appears to be an outside group that advocates in favor of the CPA, see https://www.communitypreservation.org/about ).
The next Presidential Election cycle is 2024. It is not clear if the intent of the presentation in Reading is to add CPA to the fall 2024 ballot in Reading. It also is not yet firmly fixed when a possible vote on a Killam debt exclusion might take place, but per a chart shown in the financial forum on 9/20/2023 (see the chart below), it appears that the “funding the project” part of the Killam feasibility study, is a window running from October 2024 through April 2025, i.e., a window during which a Killam debt exclusion vote possibly would take place. This overlaps with the fall 2024 Presidential Election cycle, as well.
Waiting until the next Presidential Election cycle ultimately may be what is happening in Winchester regarding the CPA. Per this Chronicle article, Winchester town meeting considered the CPA in fall of 2022, but then their town meeting rejected a community vote on it to take place in 2023 per this article (see http://homenewshere.com/daily_times_chronicle/news/winchester/article_5b1bb244-6f3e-11ed-96cb-57fa931764af.html ). The article explains this rejection further:
“Although the Select Board, Housing Partnership Board, Capital Planning Committee, and Affordable Housing Trust all want the town to become a CPA community, all four recommended unfavorable action on the motion to allow residents to vote on becoming such a community at the next regularly scheduled town election in March . . . .The catch involves the timing of when residents would vote on a CPA ballot question. While the above-mentioned boards and committees want the town to adopt the CPA, they believe now isn’t the right time to ask. They all see the upcoming override vote for the Lynch School project, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 7, and worry residents won’t support another “override” vote for the CPA in March (the Community Preservation Act adds a surcharge to a resident’s property tax bill of .5 – 3 percent if adopted).”
It does not appear that Winchester ever held its CPA vote in spring 2023 in its town meeting at that time (see warrant here https://www.winchester.us/DocumentCenter/View/9875/2023-Spring-Town-Meeting-Warrant ).
Another local community, Burlington, rejected the CPA in Nov 2022 (see https://patch.com/massachusetts/burlington/burlington-2022-election-results-polls-close ). However, other communities that same month did pass the CPA, including Worcester, Natick, Shelburne, Boylston, and Westborough (see https://www.communitypreservation.org/home/news/2022-election-day-coverage-big-wins-across-board-new-cpa-communities ).
The pdf of the slides extracted from the packet are below: