DLS estimates record-low 15% state match for Community Preservation Act in FY18

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Cities and towns that have adopted the Community Preservation Act can expect a first-round state match in November of 15 percent of the local surcharge levied, the Division of Local Services has announced.
 
This level of distributions from the Community Preservation Trust Fund would be the lowest in the program’s history.
 
The DLS reports that its estimates are subject to change depending on collections at registries of deeds through October.
 
There will be equity and surplus distributions for those cities and towns that have adopted the maximum 3 percent surcharge, according to the DLS. With these additional distributions, the total state reimbursement for qualifying cities and towns will increase, depending on their decile and total surcharge amount.
 
During 2017, 162 cities and towns collected a local CPA surcharge and are eligible for state matching grants in fiscal 2018, according to the DLS.
 
Boston, Springfield, Holyoke, Pittsfield and seven other cities and towns that recently adopted the CPA won't receive their first match until the fall of 2018. Without legislative action to support the CPA Trust Fund, the match can be expected to drop again next year, as trust fund proceeds are divided among a larger number of communities.
 
The MMA has joined numerous stakeholders in supporting a bill (H. 2615) that would adjust the recording fees at registries of deeds in order to bolster the Community Preservation Trust Fund and provide a higher match to all CPA communities. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue held a hearing last month on the bill, which would amend the Community Preservation Act to ensure a 50 percent first-round match for cities and towns.
 
The Community Preservation Act, passed in 2000, allows participating municipalities 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.
 
The state match rate this year is 20.6 percent.
 
From 2002 to 2007, the state matched 100 percent of the local revenue raised through CPA surcharges, but the match has dropped precipitously since then. A state law change in 2012 added additional revenue to the trust fund, raising the match to 52.2 percent, but increased adoption in recent years has meant that the fund is divided among more communities, reducing the match percentage.
 
For more information on the CPA, visit www.communitypreservation.org.