Massachusetts Governor Approves Updates to Community Preservation Act

Jul 30, 2012

The Governor of Massachusetts has signed an overhaul of the Community Preservation Act, which provides state funding to towns that have adopted the law for open spaces, historic preservation, and affordable housing. WAMC’s Lucas Willard has more…

The changes to the 12-year old Community Preservation Act signed by Governor Deval Patrick this month were included in the state’s fiscal year 2013 budget, signed on July 8th.

According to Doug Pizzi, spokesman for the Community Preservation Coalition- a group of organizations that advocate for adoption and improvement in the Community Preservation Act –the most significant change is the $25 million increase in funding, due to a budget surplus.

Prior to 2008, all communities received a 100% match in state funding. Pizzi explains that originall that matching percentage declined due to funding tied to the housing market, as well as popularity of the program…

Pizzi also remarked on another significant update to the CPA is the allowance of CPA funding to be matched with projects that update existing recreational assets, including parks and open spaces.

About 42% of communities in Massachusetts have adopted the Act. Adoption requires establishment of a local Community Preservation Committee. Funds are raised for projects through a surcharge up to 3% on property taxes. Included in this update to the CPA, small businesses worth up to 100,000 are included with residences in exemption of the surcharge.

Currently, only 4 towns in Berkshire County have adopted the Act. Sally Underwood-Miller, chair of Stockbridge’s Community Preservation Committee, says that she was disappointed at one change not made in the update: currently the law allows for the creation of affordable housing and also assists with upkeep to protect housing integrity – such as assisting with a new roof or windows - but does not support updating affordable housing with furnishings or appliances.

Other updates to the law include banning the use of funds to purchase artificial turf and the new ability for communities to dedicate money from different sources towards a CPA funds.

Recently in Berkshire County, Williamstown residents voted to approve CPA funds to assist in creating Affordable Housing. In Great Barrington, a ballot measure is in place to adopt CPA laws this fall.