Community Preservation Committee Recommends Continuing Surcharge

By Elizabeth Hacala

At their September 19 public hearing, the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) reviewed the current surcharge match projection of 15 percent (estimated at $228,115 for FY18).  They discussed possible changes to the future surcharge due to Boston’s entrance into the Community Preservation Act (CPA) as well as legislative efforts to change the funding model for the CPA.  Selectman Margot Fleischman pointed out we would know more about possible funding changes at the end of the legislative session. Committee chair Shawn Hanegan reminded attendees that the matching funds come from a Registry of Deeds surcharge and the fees have not been adjusted since the Act was established in 2000.

The Committee voted unanimously to recommend that Town Meeting continue the 3 percent surcharge for FY2019.

The Community Preservation Act is a Massachusetts law passed in September 2000. The Act allows towns and cities in Massachusetts to approve a real estate tax surcharge of up to 3 percent, the funds to be used for historic preservation, affordable housing, open space, or recreational projects.  Town meeting votes each fall on whether or not to continue the 3 percent surcharge.

Bedford adopted the CPA in March of 2001 through a vote of town meeting and town election vote.  Bedford exempts the taxes paid on the first $100,000 in residential property value from the surcharge and offers an exemption for low-income residents. The surcharge was first collected in FY 2002 and the first matches in the following year.  A minimum of 10 percent of funds must be spent or reserved on each of the original purposes of affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space. Unlike most municipal funds, the CPC is allowed to roll funds over from one year to the next, enabling the committee to build up funds for large projects when needed.

For several years Bedford enjoyed a 100 percent match of CPA funds.  As more communities adopted the CPA and the economy slowed, the match rate dropped and the current level is approximately 15 percent.

The CPC publishes a program and plan each year which details projects, their status, and plans for future projects. You can download the 2017 Project and Plan from the town website:

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