What is the Community Preservation Act?
On September 14, 2000, the Governor signed legislation creating the Mass Community Preservation Act. This piece of legislation provides a mechanism to cities and towns, through local option, to fund the creation and preservation of community housing, open space and historic resources. The acceptance of this legislation allows communities to impose a surcharge on the annual real estate taxes and in turn appropriate monies in that fund for allowable uses. Communities accepting this act will also receive additional monies from a new state trust fund creating by imposing a surcharge on documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds or Land Court to be added to the community's fund.
Accepting the Act:
A community must accept General Laws Chapter 44B Section 3-7. Acceptance requires majority approval of both the community's legislative body (passed at Special Town Meeting October 2000) and voters at the next regular municipal or state election (passed in March 2001 Town election).
The vote approved by the Town provided for a three percent (3%) surcharge of the taxes assessed annually on real property exempting the first $100,000 of the assessed valuation of Class I, residential parcels. It was also voted to exempt from the surcharge any property owned and occupies as a domicile by a person who qualifies for low-income housing or low or moderate-income senior housing in the Town. Residents must apply to the Assessor's Office for an abatement application.
Acceptance may be revoked but the town must wait until at least five years after the referendum passed. The surcharge continues to be assessed, however, until all obligations incurred and funded by the fund are paid.
Community Preservation Committee:
At the Annual Town Meeting in March 2001, the Town voted to establish the Community Preservation Committee as provided for under MGL Ch. 44B Section 5. This committee will consist of nine members appointed by the Board of Selectmen for staggered 3-year terms. There should be one member each from the Conservation Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Board, Selectman, Housing Partnership, Housing Authority and 3 citizens at large.
This committee will make annual recommendations to Town Meeting regarding expenditures from the Community Preservation Fund. For each fiscal year, the community must spend or reserve at least 10% of the annual revenues in the fund for each of the act's community preservation purposes: open space, historic resources, and affordable housing.
The surcharge is assessed on the real estate tax bill. The surcharge will appear on the four quarter bills, The first two quarter bills will represent a preliminary surcharge amount based on the previous years valuation less $100,000 exemption. The 3rd and 4th quarter bills will be based on the current fiscal year valuation less $100,000 exemption, less amount paid in first two quarters. The resulting amount will be split between the 3rd and 4th quarter bills.
Surcharges not paid by the due date will accrue interest at 14% computed in the same manner as overdue property taxes.