CPA needs to come to town


cpa

Medfield voted down the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA) at our annual town meeting (ATM), maybe 7-8 years ago, and as a result we have missed out on huge amounts of state CPA matching monies that we could have been using to pay for our open spaces, our historic preservation, or our affordable housing.  I hope that we can agree to finally adopt the CPA soon, as every year we are leaving state matching monies on the table, despite that we pay in to the Norfolk Registry of Deeds recording surcharges that create the pool of monies used for the matching funds.  Our payments are instead going to other towns in their matching monies.

In recent years, the matching monies have been so low from the registry surcharges that the legislature has annually supplemented the matching monies via an appropriation – almost half the cities and towns have adopted the CPA, so a lot of legislators are interested in keeping the CPA match high.

When we do adopt the CPA, since the whole reason to do so is to get the most state matching monies, we should adopt the highest level surcharge, which is 3%, because only those who agree to the 3% CPA surcharge get the most and largest state matches.

I have been asking for several years in a row to have an ATM warrant article to adopt the CPA, and I have been requested to not proceed by CPA proponents due to their not having educated the residents sufficiently.  This year I think we just need to go ahead, and expect that residents will understand that the CPA will save us money in the long run.  The Community Preservation Coalition website (www.communitypreservation.org) is excellent at explaining the CPA.

This article below about the CPA matching monies just issued was in my Massachusetts Department of Revenue newsletter this week –

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FY18 Community Preservation Act (CPA) State Match Info
Lisa Krzywicki – Municipal Databank Director

On November 14th, the Division of Local Services (DLS) released the FY2018 CPA state match to the 162 communities that have adopted the CPA surcharge. The CPA allows a community to adopt a local surcharge of up to three percent that is added to real estate property tax bills. The purpose of the CPA is to help communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing and develop outdoor recreational facilities. The CPA statute, M.G.L. 44B, provides a state match to eligible communities from revenues collected by the registry of deeds for surcharges on fees charged for recording various documents.

In FY2018, the available balance in the CPA state trust fund was $26M, and the local surcharges committed by cities and towns totaled $120.9M, which provided for a 17.2 percent base state match. Chapter 44B provides for an additional state match if a community adopted a three percent surcharge or the “blended” CPA by voting a surcharge of at least one percent and appropriating other funds to the community preservation fund so that the total equals three percent of the real estate tax levy. For FY2018, 76 communities are eligible for the second round or equity distribution and third round surplus distribution. The equity and surplus distributions use population and equalized valuation (EQV) to determine a ranking that would provide a greater portion of the balance of the state trust fund after the initial calculation to poorer and more densely populated communities. However, only those that committed a three percent surcharge whether by adopting a three percent surcharge or the blended CPA (as stated above) are eligible for these additional distributions. The decile ranking used to determine the equity and surplus rounds can be found by clicking here. The distribution summary can be found in this report.

The state community preservation trust fund was created in 2000 and revenues from the registry of deeds started funneling into the trust fund right away. In FY2003, communities started collecting the local CPA surcharge. The first state match occurred in FY2004 based on those local surcharges. In FY2003, 34 communities adopted the CPA and were eligible for the state match. In FY2018, 162 communities were eligible to receive the state match. Until FY2009, the state trust fund was sufficient to provide communities with a 100 percent state match. Due to increasing participation and declining registry collections, DLS has not been able to provide a 100 percent state match since then.

In FY2018, ten additional communities will begin assessing the local CPA surcharge and will be eligible for the state match in FY2019. In the spring of 2018, DLS will project the first round state match for the 172 communities eligible for the state match in FY2019. The ten new communities are Billerica, Boston, Holyoke, Hull, Norwood, Pittsfield, Rockland, Springfield, Watertown and Wrentham. For a complete list of all communities that have adopted the CPA, please click here. As of today, only one other community has scheduled a ballot question to adopt the CPA. Voters in the town of Northbridge will decide next spring whether to add the CPA surcharge at one percent. For the up-to-date listing of communities considering adoption of the CPA, please refer to the Community Preservation Coalition website at www.communitypreservation.org or by clicking here.

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