Certain people say the Community Preservation Act is a wonderful mechanism to help cities and towns in Massachusetts to fund open space, historic preservation, community housing, and outdoor recreation projects. Others say it’s just a way for government to circumvent Proposition 2 ½. Let us take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.
According to the CPA Coalition the “CPA is a smart growth tool that helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities. CPA also helps strengthen the state and local economies by expanding housing opportunities and construction jobs for the Commonwealth’s workforce, and by supporting the tourism industry through preservation of the Commonwealth’s historic and natural resources.”
The Act allows local communities to establish a Community Preservation Fund which gets generated through a local surcharge from 1 to 3% on property tax bills. At 1% this would average $15 to $44 increase per tax payer, annually.
Estimated Yearly Cost to Average Malden Homeowner with a 1% CPA surcharge (based on FY2013 data, with the first $100,000 of property value exempted)
Type of Dwelling Average Property Value Estimated Annual CPA Cost
Single Family $282831 $29
Two Family $330832 $37
Three Family $377339 $44
Condo $198461 $15
There is also a statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund which distributes funds annually to those local communities that have adopted the CPA as an incentive. These monies are generated from fees collected at the Registry of Deeds, and state budget surplus funds. Malden is missing out on these funds because it has not adopted CPA.
Each fiscal year, CPA communities must spend, or set aside for future spending the following share of their annual CPA revenues on three core areas:
-10% for open space and recreation
-10% for historic resources
-10% for community housing.
The remaining 70% of the revenues may be split between the three areas or spent on one particular area. The CPA funds may never be directed to the general city fund; they may only be spent on the CPA core areas.
The CPA Coalition informs us that “A municipality adopts the CPA through passage of a ballot question at the voting booth. There are two ways that the question to adopt CPA can be placed on the ballot. The first method, used by roughly 2/3 of the current CPA communities, is a vote by the municipality’s legislative body (Town Meeting or City or Town Council) to put the adoption question on the ballot. The second method requires a petition to be signed by at least 5 percent of the community’s registered voters, requesting that the question be placed on the ballot. In either case, CPA must subsequently be approved by a simple majority of the voters in the community.’’
There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts that could adopt the Community Preservation Act. So far, 216 communities have put it on the ballot; 155 communities (44%) have passed it. This represents 72% adoption success rate. The CPA has been endorsed by many special interest groups, including, but not limited to the following: Smart Growth Alliance, Environmental League of Mass., Mass. Affordable Housing Alliance, Mass. Land Trust Coalition, and Mass. League of Environmental Voters.
Steve Keleti is a Malden resident, environmental conservation activist and local contact for the Community Preservation Act. He was recently interviewed at MATV by Neighborhood View Citizen Journalists, Marcia Manong and Karen Lynch. Included below is the video of that interview.
There is more information available to Malden residents by clicking on the links below: