Greenfield: Vote ‘Yes’ for CPA

Published: 10/23/2020 11:55:51 AM
Modified: 10/23/2020 11:55:41 AM

On their Nov. 3 election ballot, Greenfield voters will have the chance to join seven other towns in Franklin County that are funding local projects with money raised through the Community Preservation Act. If passed by a majority of voters, the act would impose a 1 percent surcharge on their property tax bill and the state would contribute an additional amount. The resulting pool of money would be used to preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing and develop outdoor recreation facilities.

This is a good time to join the program because an increase to the state match kicks in next month.

A little background: When the Community Preservation Act was started in 2000, the state matched up to 100 percent of what each participating municipality raised through its property tax surcharge. It was funded by a $20 fee to record deeds at the registry of deeds and a $10 fee for municipal lien certificates. But as more towns throughout the commonwealth adopted the CPA (about half of municipalities have done so), the pot was stretched thinner and thinner, until, by 2018, the state match had dwindled to about 17.2 percent. Last year, Gov. Baker signed a budget that hikes funding to the CPA program by increasing the recording fee at the registry of deeds from $20 to $50, and by increasing the fee for municipal lien certificates from $10 to $25. The increase takes effect in November. It is expected to provide the trust fund with an infusion of $36 million in new money each year and guarantee at least a 30 percent state match.

CPA money has made visible improvements in towns that have adopted it. In Northfield, for example, the money was used to conserve land that is now the site of the Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey S. Ames Accessible Nature Trail. In Conway, CPA money was used to repair the town swimming pool. In Sunderland, CPA money made possible the town’s first real softball field, and in Whately, CPA money helped renovate its historic Town Hall building.

A local Community Preservation Act Committee would review suggestions from townspeople on how to spend the money, and then make recommendations to City Council, which would have to approve the projects.

Importantly, there are exemptions to the surcharge, including people who qualify for low-income housing or low- to moderate-income senior housing. Property owners could file for an exemption from paying the levy imposed by the Community Preservation Act.

Towns around the county can point with pride to CPA-funded projects that enhance their neighborhoods and their lives. It’s time for Greenfield to join them.


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