With the passage of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in November 2012, the City of Somerville joined 154 other communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that have a steady funding source dedicated to preserving and improving their character and quality of life. Over three quarters of the voters of Somerville voted for the act, which provides the City with a new revenue stream to invest in affordable housing, historic preservation, open space, and outdoor recreation. This achievement represents an exciting opportunity to continue making Somerville a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family.
With the passage of the act, the City created a Community Preservation Fund (CPF), the resources of which will be devoted solely to affordable housing, historic preservation, open space, and outdoor recreation projects. Funding for the CPF comes from three sources:
1. A 1.5% surcharge on net property taxes. The first $100,000 of assessed value is exempt, and qualifying low- and moderate-income households may also apply for exemption (see Surcharge Information for more information).
2. Municipal revenue. Because Somerville adopted a “blended CPA,” the City may choose – though it is not required – to dedicate additional municipal revenue to the CPF. The maximum amount the City can contribute in any year is roughly equivalent to the revenue raised by the 1.5% surcharge.
3. Distributions from the Commonwealth’s Community Preservation Trust Fund. Distributions match total local funding on an annual basis, including surcharge revenue and dedicated municipal revenue. In recent years, the match from the Trust Fund has been roughly 25%. Communities with local funding equivalent to the maximum 3% surcharge are eligible for an increased match rate.
Projects are eligible to receive CPA funding if they fall into the allowable uses outlined in the chart below (see here for a more detailed version of this chart). For examples of projects that have been funded by the CPA, see the Community Preservation Coalition.