By Debra Parkhurst
Members of the Capital Expenditure Committee (CapEx), Community Preservation Committee (CPC), and town staff met in a joint session on December 16 to review the six-year capital needs of the town. Coordination will allow the best use of both CPC funds and annual capital funds. Community Preservation Fund expenditures can often be used for capital projects relating to affordable housing, historic buildings or open space and recreation, but are regulated by state law.
Town Manager Rick Reed opened the session by noting the responsibility of the Capital Expenditure Committee to develop a six-year capital plan, with the understanding that the Town must adhere to the requirements of the Community Preservation Act (CPA). CPA funding can reduce the amount the Town spends on capital projects each year or free up funds for additional projects.
While the Capital Expenditure Committee votes and presents its reports to the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee before the end of the calendar year, the CPC traditionally has held its annual hearing and review of the projects at the end of January.This presents a process issue as the Town moves forward on projects to present to Town Meeting for consideration. Some projects assumed to be under the CPA may not meet their criteria. Reed suggested that a joint meeting between the two boards take place soon after Town Meeting to make sure the two committees’ schedules are “in sync”early in the process and going forward.
Bedford was the first municipality in the State to accept the provisions of the Community Preservation Act (MGL Ch. 44B, Sec. 5), which allowed the Town to assess an additional surcharge of up to 3% tax for community preservation purposes. As an early adopter of the Act, Bedford was able to receive 100% matching grants from the State for expenditures that met the criteria from the years 2002 to 2007. Community Preservation funds are used for the acquisitions and protection of open space, affordable housing, historic resources, and recreation. CPC membership comes from the various boards and committees that represent these interests, as well as at-large members. Since the initial acceptance of the Act, other communities have also joined; as a result, the matching dollars have diminished and are presently at a 33% match.