On Nov. 12, the Department of Revenue released the fiscal 2021 distribution from the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund for each participating community, with a minimum match rate of 28.6% for all municipalities.

Municipalities that adopted the CPA with a full 3% local property tax surcharge received a higher percentage.

The Division of Local Services has posted a full list of CPA distribution amounts by municipality.

The fiscal 2020 budget increased the recording fees at registries of deeds in order to provide additional revenue for the statewide CPA Trust Fund. The increase went into effect on Dec. 31, 2019, and was projected to double the amount of matching funds available to participating CPA communities. Advocates said the change would halt the trend of dropping match rates, which were headed toward a single-digit percentage.

When the Community Preservation Act was signed 20 years ago, the intent was for participating communities to receive a 100% match as an incentive. The state match percentage decreased over the years as more municipalities adopted the program and amid competing budget priorities.

The CPA allows communities to create a local fund for purposes of open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation. Municipalities must adopt the CPA by ballot referendum, and funds are raised locally through a surcharge of not more than 3% on the property tax.

The CPA was passed in all nine municipalities that had it on the ballot on Nov. 3. With the addition of Framingham, Franklin, Greenfield, Hopedale, Lancaster, Lee, Milton, Shrewsbury and Whitman, 186 communities – or a bit more than half statewide – have adopted the program. The newly admitted municipalities will not see their first distribution until November 2022.

Seven out of nine of the new municipalities adopted the CPA with a 1% property tax surcharge. Only three communities since 2010 have adopted the program at the maximum 3% surcharge level. Because of these trends, along with the fee increase legislation, the new additions to the program are less likely to cause an overall drain on the CPA Trust Fund.

This is the third consecutive year that the CPA match has increased. Before the deeds fee change took effect, the trust fund was bolstered with modest amounts from state budget surpluses.

Written by