A new wave of ballot measures to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) has spread across Massachusetts this November, as citizens from the historic seaport of New Bedford to rural Egremont in the Berkshires vote on whether to create local dedicated funds for protecting the character of their communities.
Now in its 14th year, CPA is a unique, innovative programthat empowers citizens to shape the future of their communities. Towns and cities adopt CPA through voter approval of a small property tax surcharge dedicated to open space protection, historic preservation, recreation, and affordable housing. CPA funds generated locally are augmented by a yearly distribution from the state CPA Trust Fund. So far, CPA has raised almost $1.2 billion statewide and funded the protection of almost 20,000 acres of open space, 1,000 outdoor recreation projects, 3,200 historic restoration projects, and 7,300 new units of affordable housing.
Communities voting in November are Arlington, Berkeley, Boxborough, Egremont, New Bedford, Newbury, Otis, and Woburn. In addition, Amherst and Essex are deciding whether to increase their existing CPA surcharge.
So far, 44 percent of the municipalities in the Massachusetts have adopted CPA, which continues to grow in popularity as cities and towns see the benefits it has brought to nearby communities. In addition, amendments to the act passed in 2012 increased funding options and flexibility, which has attracted new interest among municipalities seeking to invest in their historic and recreational resources–especially cities, which have tended to be underrepresented in the program. New Bedford, the sixth largest city in Massachusetts, is voting in November to generate over $1 million in funding for the revitalization of its historic waterfront and other community projects.
State lawmakers also gave CPA an important boost this summer by providing $25 million to the CPA Trust Fund from the state budget surplus for the second year in a row. State matching funds had diminished in recent years because the trust fund’s main revenue source, document recording fees at the state’s Registries of Deeds, has diminished with the declining real estate market. This decisive commitment by the state provides an important assurance to communities voting on CPA adoption in November.