Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strengthening the Community Preservation Act

The Senate is preparing to debate and pass its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, and I believe this budget presents a prime opportunity to make important changes to the Community Preservation Act.

Thus, I have written to Senate Committee on Ways and means Chairman Stephen Brewer with a request to include these changes in the committee’s budget proposal. Twelve of my colleagues have joined me in signing the letter containing this request, including three Republicans and nine Democrats. In the letter to Senator Brewer, we ask that the Senate Ways and Means budget proposal include the same CPA changes adopted by the House of Representatives during its budget deliberations last month.

It’s important for the Senate to engage in the process of reforming and reinvigorating the Community Preservation Act to spur economic growth and protect our precious natural resources and assets. With this letter, my colleagues and I are expressing our desire to retain these same important reforms in the Senate’s budget to help advance preservation efforts and promote economic growth at the municipal level.

Established by the Legislature in 2000, the CPA was designed to preserve open space, housing and the rehabilitation of historic properties. Cities and towns that participate in the program can impose a property tax surcharge of up to 3 percent to pay for these efforts, with the state providing additional matching funds collected through fees assessed on deeds. Although the original goal of the CPA was for the state to provide 100 percent matching funds to municipalities, the state currently matches only 22 cents of every dollar spent locally.

The adoption of the reform language would:

• expand the scope of the program by allowing communities to access CPA funding for the rehabilitation of existing athletic fields, parks and playgrounds;

• increase state matching funds by up to $25 million, using surplus revenue from the Fiscal Year 2012 budget;

• provide municipalities with greater flexibility to fund their participation in the CPA program through revenue sources outside of the existing property tax surcharge, such as hotel excise taxes, linkage fee and inclusionary zoning payments, the sale of municipal property, parking fines, and gifts received from private sources for community preservation purposes; and

• give communities the option to establish a CPA property tax exemption for small businesses on the first $100,000 of property value, allowing employers to invest more money in their business and create jobs.

Posted below is a copy of the letter that was sent to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chairman, Senator Stephen Brewer.

Bet 2012.05.02 Cpa Request Ltr to Swm