A sign depicting a map is posted in front of a new housing development

The Lake Street Terrace affordable housing project in Chatham. (Photo: Community Preservation Coalition)

The fiscal 2020 state budget act includes a permanent increase in recording fees at county registries of deeds, which is projected to raise an additional $36 million per year for the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund.

The increase is expected to roughly double state matching funds for local historic preservation, open space, affordable housing, and parks and recreation projects in the 175 participating cities and towns.

The state’s ability to match local CPA contributions has decreased substantially in recent years as more municipalities have adopted the program. When the local-option program began nearly two decades ago, the state matched 100% of the amounts raised locally, but the rate has dropped over time to a new low of 17.2% in 2018.

On Dec. 31, recording fees will increase from $20 to $50, and the cost of a municipal lien certificate will increase from $10 to $25. The fee increases are projected to boost the state match to about 30% in 2020. (CPA distributions do not align with the fiscal year. The balance in the CPA Trust Fund as of Oct. 31 each year is distributed to CPA communities on Nov. 15.)

The fiscal 2020 budget also sets aside up to $20 million from the fiscal 2019 budget surplus to supplement the matching funds that will be distributed this fall.

CPA communities raise revenue for specified purposes through a surcharge on local property taxes that ranges from 0.5% to 3%.

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