POLITICS

A New CPA Funding Cycle Is Set To Begin

By Kristen Arute, Published: June 24, 2020
Hingham Current News File Photos / Greg Lane and Kristen Arute

Now that Town Meeting is over, the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will be discussing a new funding cycle at its meeting on Wednesday night. Half of all municipalities in the State have signed on to the Community Preservation Act (CPA) of 2000 which enables communities to raise funds for the preservation of open space and historic resources, the development of affordable housing and the acquisition and development of outdoor recreational facilities. The CPA has been amended eleven times since being signed into law. Recently, for example, it was determined that communities can now use monies for rental assistance.

 

Hingham was one of the first towns to enroll in the CPA when, at the 2001 Town Election, voters agreed to have a 1.5 % surcharge added to their real estate tax bills. The governing piece of legislation states that Massachusetts will match the funding raised by municipalities; however, it is not guaranteed to be a dollar-for-dollar match. Instead, it is a  range, or, more specifically, “an amount not less than 5 per cent but not greater than 100 per cent of the total amount raised by the additional surcharge.”

 

Since its inception the use has expanded and the number of participating towns has increased, but the pool of available funds remains limited. Because of the rising number of communities participating in the program, legislation was passed in 2019 to increase recording fees that provide revenue to the State’s CPA Trust Fund. An additional $60 million was projected to be raised annually for CPA communities. However, State funds could potentially be frozen until September or October at the earliest as the Legislature works to redo the budget in light of COVID-19.

 

In the past, Hingham has used CPA funds for projects like the bathhouse at the Harbor. Any structures that are deemed “reasonably necessary to directly support the use of the outdoor recreational facility” are allowable. Equipment storage sheds, like the one at the Country Club, are another example of this type of use. This year, the CPC recommended the approval of seven projects for a total of $1,203,999 in funding, and Town Meeting agreed. They are:

 

  • $772,000 for the purchase of the Benjamin Lincoln House

  • $500,000 for design and construction plans for the pool at the South Shore Country Club

  • $272,300 for the Hingham Affordable Housing Trust

  • $75,000 for the renovation of tennis courts at Plymouth River Elementary School

  • $40,000 for the restoration of the cemetery on Canterbury Street

  • $32,030 for the restoration of the tower clock at Second Parish Church

  • $8000 for re-surveying, property markers and kiosks at the Lehner property which was acquired in 2016 using CPC funds

 

There are several stages to the awarding of CPC funding, and the whole cycle takes almost one year to complete. After a two-step application process, proponents present their projects to the CPC. CPC then votes on which projects to move forward to Town Meeting for approval, and those projects are included in the Warrant and voted on at Town Meeting. For more information, residents can email CPCAdmin@hingham-ma.gov.

Current members of the Community Preservation Committee:         

Kevin M. Burke - Historical Commission Representative

Vicki Donlan - Recreation Commission Representative

William Harrington - Appointed By Selectmen

Larry Lindner - Appointed By Selectmen

Robert Mosher - Conservation Commission Representative

Kirsten Moore - Appointed By Town Moderator

Judy Sneath - Planning Board Representative

James R. Watson - Housing Authority

Daniel White - Appointed By Town Moderator

Kristen can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.