The 173 cities and towns that have adopted the Community Preservation Act can expect a first-round state match in November of 11.57 percent of their local surcharge revenue, the Department of Revenue has announced.

The fiscal 2020 match rate from the Community Preservation Trust Fund would be the lowest in the program’s history.

CPA communities that collect less than the 3 percent maximum allowable surcharge from property owners will be eligible only for the 11.57 percent match, according to the DOR. Communities that collect the 3 percent surcharge will be eligible for additional funding in rounds two and three of the trust fund distribution, called the equity and surplus rounds.

In a memo to municipalities in early March, the DOR said its estimates “are subject to change depending on Registry of Deeds collections between now and October.”

According to the Community Preservation Coalition, the CPA Trust Fund distribution (state match) has declined every year since 2013, when the state match rate was 50 percent. Last year, the DOR distributed a 19 percent match, from a combination of fees derived from the state’s Registry of Deeds and state budget surplus funds.

State legislators concerned about the decline in state contributions to the CPA program have filed bills that would adjust the fee structure at the Registry of Deeds to provide a CPA match of more than 40 percent in fiscal 2021. Bills filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem (S. 1618) and Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante (H.2463) have been assigned to the Joint Committee on Revenue and are awaiting a hearing date.

The Community Preservation Act, passed in 2000, allows municipalities that adopt it to place a surcharge of up to 3 percent on real property in order to create a local dedicated fund for the four allowable CPA purposes: open space preservation, historic preservation, outdoor recreation and affordable housing. Communities that have adopted the CPA receive annual distributions from the state trust fund to supplement local revenue collections.

From 2002 to 2007, the state matched 100 percent of the local revenue raised through CPA surcharges, but the match has dropped steadily since. A state law change in 2012 added additional revenue to the trust fund, raising the match to 52.2 percent, but the growing popularity of the program has meant that the CPA fund is divided among more communities, resulting in a lower match percentage.

For more information about the CPA program, visit www.communitypreservation.org.

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