What is CPA?
The Community Preservation Act ("CPA") is a state law that enables cities and towns to create a dedicated fund for important projects that can greatly impact a community’s character and quality of life. Towns spend CPA funds in three core areas: open space protection, historic preservation, and accessible housing. Each of these areas must receive a minimum of 10% of the total fund each year, but the remaining 70% can be spent or reserved for future spending in any of the three areas, or for public recreation. Money for the CPA is raised locally through a small surcharge on property taxes (in Hanson this is 1.5%), which is then matched by funds from the state. State funds are collected through surcharges at the Registries of Deeds on transactions in all Massachusetts municipalities. Adopting the CPA brings these funds back to local towns. Once in a town’s CPA fund, these funds are controlled exclusively by local residents, for local projects. To date, we have received over $394,000 in state match!!
Hanson adopted the CPA in 2008 and formed a Community Preservation Committee (“CPC”) for evaluating proposals submitted by individuals, town boards, committees and community groups for use of funds that the town receives for purchasing and preserving open space, historic sites and community housing, as well as for public recreation spaces.
Why Is It Good for Hanson?
CPA afforded us the opportunity to complete more than 10 projects within the last eight years. These are projects that may not have ever been completed were it not for the CPA funds. These projects help us to strengthen our local economy by providing jobs for the local workforce. In addition, CPA funds were used for the preservation of Hanson's historic and natural resources both of which are essential to preserving and improving Hanson's community and quality of life.
Who Decides How the Money Is Spent?
The CPC researches the Town's needs, consults with committees that are knowledgable about each of the community preservation areas, and gathers information from the public. There are a total of nine CPC members. Five members are representatives drawn from the Hanson Housing Committee, Conservation Commission, Historical Commission, Parks and Fields, and the Planning Board, while four seats are citizens-at-large positions appointed by the Board of Selectmen.
After the CPC has studied a proposed project it will decide whether to recommend that project to Town Meeting for funding. If it decides to recommend the project, a Town Warrant Article is written up and presented to the voters at Town Meeting to determine whether they support funding the project as recommended by the Community Preservation Committee.
So, while the CPC has a vital role to play in how the CPA monies in Hanson are spent, ultimately the voters decide which projects to approve at Town Meeting.
Where Can I Get More Information About CPA?
For more information about the CPA and the ways that other communities have used their CPA money, please visit the Community Preservation Coalition's website at: http://www.communitypreservation.org/.