By Colin A. Young, State House News Service
The Senate on Tuesday night adopted an amendment more than doubling the Registry of Deeds fee that funds the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund, a step aimed at rejuvenating the collapsing partnership.
When Gov. Paul Cellucci signed the Community Preservation Act into law in 2000, it was with the promise of state matching funds from the CPA Trust Fund to preserve open space, renovate historic buildings and parks, and build new playgrounds, affordable housing and athletic fields. During the first six years, the state matched 100 percent of what each municipality raised by its property tax surcharge, but state matching funds have fallen or remained flat in eight of the last nine years.
The state match for next year is projected to be 15 percent, a record low, Sen. Cynthia Creem said. "What was billed as a state-local partnership is no longer that," she said.
The Senate Tuesday adopted a Creem amendment (# 286) to raise the deeds fee from the $20 it has been since 2000 to $45, which she said would allow municipalities that have adopted the CPA to receive a state match of roughly 30 percent in 2018 and "hopefully for years after that."
Since the CPA took effect, 172 cities and towns have adopted it (49 percent of municipalities and 60 percent of the state's population), raising $1.75 billion to create and support more than 10,600 affordable housing units, 4,440 historic preservation projects, almost 1,750 local parks and recreation projects, and conservation of 26,200 acres of open space, according to the Community Preservation Coalition.
Hull voters approved the CPA last year.