CLT News Release
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
S.2563; “An Act
Authorizing a local affordable housing surcharge”
Contact: Chip Ford, Executive Director
Ahead of Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Taxation hearing, the following
testimony was delivered to all committee members.
To: Members of the Joint Committee on Revenue
March 3, 2020
RE: S.2563; “An Act Authorizing a local affordable housing surcharge”
Dear Member of the Committee;
S.2563, “An Act Authorizing a local affordable housing surcharge,”
proposes a law that to a great extent has existed for two decades; at a
minimum it would overlap the Community Preservation Act (MGL Chapter
44B). While duplicating to a considerable degree an existing state law
to focus on a single element of the original, the biggest difference
among the two appears to be the elimination of Section 14 of Chapter
44B, to wit: State Grants under Section 10 of the Community
Preservation Act (CPA).
S.2563 would create two separate funds for promoting affordable housing
within a community: The CPA, with its promise of matching state funds;
and this proposal borne entirely by municipal property taxpayers without
even a promise of matching state funds.
S.2563 would create a municipal “affordable housing trust” to administer
the potential revenue raised. The CPA already requires a “community
preservation fund” from which its revenue is administered. Each would
have its own administrative and operating costs.
The CPA permits up to 80% of total revenue generated to be spent on
“community housing.” The decision on allocation among three mandatory
criteria (Chapter 44B, Section 6) resides in the hands of local
officials. There is no need for a new tax scheme for virtually the same
purpose to be superimposed upon the existing one.
Many residents of the commonwealth are aware of the need for affordable
housing, as they continue to see their property taxes among other costs
of living increase year upon year while their incomes are fixed or
stagnant. When a Proposition 2½ override or CPA question appears on
their ballot many simply cannot afford to pay any more. These people
too are concerned about “affordable housing.” Their own. But they are
often out-voted by a more prosperous majority; some are gradually being
taxed out of their homes.
Citizens for Limited Taxation and its members ask that, in your search
for a solution to the affordable housing dilemma, you cautiously avoid
exacerbating the problem by making home-ownership for many longtime
property taxpayers itself unaffordable.