While the COVID emergency’s impact on the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund is difficult to predict, the Division of Local Services on May 1 issued preliminary guidance, projecting an 11.2% first-round distribution to CPA communities in November.

“While current events have made estimating the state match a challenge, we have calculated a conservative estimate for use in municipal budget discussions,” the DLS stated.

Revenue for the trust fund comes from filing fees collected at the state’s registries of deeds (for home sales and mortgage filings, for example), but it’s unclear how COVID will impact the real estate market in the coming months.

A change to fees collected by the registries of deeds went into effect on January 1, 2020. This change was implemented to boost the CPA trust fund balance to provide for a greater state match.

“The COVID-19 outbreak will undoubtedly have an impact on the transactions at the Registry of Deeds, however, and the magnitude of that impact is impossible to project,” the DLS stated. “We will provide updated guidance on the state match percentage as additional data becomes available.”

The Community Preservation Coalition is reporting that the DLS’s projection is based solely on revenue that was collected before April and is currently in the trust fund. Almost all of this revenue came in prior to the governor’s state of emergency order in March.

“The pandemic hit just as the revenue for the Trust Fund began to climb dramatically – a result of the legislation passed last year to raise registry fees for CPA,” the coalition states. “The pre-pandemic reports were showing very positive results. With seven months to go until November’s distribution, the final percentage will undoubtedly be much higher than the DOR’s current projection.”