Here's a number that's hard to believe: 2,952. That's
the number of CPA projects that have been approved
by Massachusetts communities since the Act was
signed into law in 2000. But the real success of CPA
can found in the details of each of these terrific
projects. The Coalition is looking to honor the best of
the best in CPA projects with The Robert Kuehn
Community Preservation Award, and there's even a
cash award for the winners. The deadline for CPCs to
nominate projects is January 31st, and more details
are available here.
CPA Trust Fund Update
This past fall, the Massachusetts Department of
Revenue (DOR) estimated that next October's first
round trust fund match percentage will fall from this
year's 68% to approximately 35% (communities
assessing the maximum 3% CPA surcharge will
receive more, based on the Act's distribution formula).
DOR's estimate is based on the assumption that the
CPA trust fund will take in $27 million in revenue from
fees charged at the state Registries of Deeds this
year, the same amount collected last year.
In the current economy, however, reaching $27 million
in deeds fee revenue may be a challenge. The state
CPA trust fund year runs from September through
August. In September 2008 CPA trust fund collections
were $1.99M, down from $2.70M in 2007. October
2008 collections were $1.88M, down from $2.02M in
2007, and November collections were $1.96M, down
from $2.27M in 2007. So, in the first three months of
the trust fund year, revenue is down by
It's not all bad news. Falling interest rates are spurring
an increase in mortgage refinancing, which in turn
may lead to more transactional fees for the CPA trust
fund. We will continue to monitor the trust fund
collections each month, and report on the figures in
future issues of CPA Update.
Grants Available for Historic Preservation and
The Massachusetts Historical
announced the latest round of the Massachusetts
Preservation Projects Fund grant program, and the
deadline is February 20th. This state-funded grant
program provides 50% reimbursement to municipal
nonprofit preservation projects, including properties,
landscapes and sites listed in the State Register of
Historic Places. Eligible projects include pre-
development, development and acquisition projects,
and grant awards range from $5,000 to $100,000. To
apply, click here or call 617-727-8470.
In addition, the Massachusetts Department of
Conservation Services announced a special funding
round for open space purchases, with up to $500,000
available per project. The deadline for applications is
March 12th. To apply, click here.
Coalition Hires Communications Director
Thanks to the generosity of a longtime foundation
supporter, the Coalition was able to expand our staff
this year. Alison Mitchell joined the Coalition as its
new half-time Communications Director. Prior to
joining the Coalition, Alison served as
Communications Director for the state Treasurer's
office and as a staff attorney at a local non-profit
organization. Alison will work on the Coalition's
website redesign, newsletters, annual report and
Legal News: CPA and Recreation
While the lawsuit in
recently regarding the legality of using CPA funds for
certain recreational projects, another CPA recreational
lawsuit was working its way through the system.
On October 29, 2008, a Superior Court judge
dismissed a lawsuit filed by taxpayers in Wayland
seeking return of CPA funds spent on an athletic field,
ruling that the taxpayers did not have standing to
obtain relief. The court's ruling did not address the
legality of using CPA funds for such a field.
Responding to Revocation and Surcharge Reduction Efforts
Each year, a handful of communities face efforts
aimed at revoking CPA or reducing their CPA
surcharges. This issue has come up most recently in
Boxford, Marshfield and Nahant. To date, not one
community has revoked CPA, and only one has
reduced its surcharge (Ayer in 2002). With the current
economic downturn, we expect that more
communities will face campaigns to revoke CPA or
lower CPA surcharges in the near term. While all
communities are facing growing fiscal challenges, it is
important that CPA supporters help educate their
communities on why CPA revocation or surcharge
reduction is not beneficial in the long run.
Shedding Light on the Meaning of "Create"
By Jennifer M. Goldson
It is helpful to periodically review the definition section
of the Community Preservation Act (Section 2 of MGL c.44B), where many of
the terms used in the CPA are defined,
including "community housing," "historic resources,"
and "rehabilitation." The definitions provide important
information with regard to CPA eligibility. For example,
it is within the definition of "rehabilitation" where we
learn that work to bring historic resources into
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is
eligible for CPA funding.
However, there are two key terms that the CPA statute
uses, but does not define: "create" and "support." The
uncertain meaning of these terms,
particularly "create", has led to
confusion over the eligibility of projects in some
communities. A few communities have asked the
Department of Revenue (DOR) to provide guidance on
their meaning and, in fact, the ambiguous meaning
of "create" was a central part of the recent lawsuit in
Newton over CPA recreational spending.
Negotiating for Open Space Acquisitions
When communities are attempting to acquire open
space, it is often beneficial to have a third party handle
negotiations in private on behalf of the municipality. In
addition to local land trusts, The Community
Preservation Coalition's partners, including the Trust for Public Land (TPL), Mass.
Audubon and the Trustees of
can help CPA communities meet their goals by
providing land acquisition expertise. TPL has
prepared a guide to the benefits of using a third party
for CPA open space acquisitions.
This Issue's Featured CPA Project
This issue's featured CPA project is a Habitat for
Humanity housing project in the Town of Scituate.
Scituate voters approved CPA at Town Meeting in 2002
with a 3% surcharge, and since then, more than 40
projects have been completed or are currently in