Community Preservation Act
The Community Preservation Act (CPA), M.G.L. Chapter 44B, was signed into Massachusetts law in 2000. This legislation was designed to encourage the preservation and protection of the natural, rural, and community character of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns. To participate in the benefits of the CPA, a city or town must vote to adopt a surcharge (from 1 to 3 per cent) on property tax, to which the State agrees to contribute a matching sum or–as has been the case in the past four years–, a percentage of that sum, obtained from State fees charged by Registries of Deeds for real estate transactions.
In 2005 Belchertown residents voted in Town Meeting, and subsequently at Town-wide elections to establish a 1.5% surcharge on Belchertown real estate taxes for this purpose. For Belchertown taxpayers membership in the CPA has resulted in an additional $35. in median property taxes, excluding the first $100,000 of valuation. The state match, originally set at 100% of the local monies collected, has declined in the past few years to an average of 27%; recent legislation, however, has guaranteed a rise in the State match to 75% beginning in 2014.
The CPA mandates that each fiscal year Belchertown must spend or set aside for later spending at least 10% of the total annual CPA revenues for community housing, historic preservation, and open space. Beyond these required allocations, the remaining 70% balance may be used on any of these three categories and/or on recreation.