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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 affordable housing. Each of these areas must receive a minimum of 10% of the total revenue each year, but the remaining 70% can be spent or reserved for future spending in any of the three areas, or for public outdoor recreation. Money for the CPA is raised locally through a small surcharge on property taxes (in Eastham this is 3%), 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, Eastham has received over $3.6 million in state matching funds!!
Eastham adopted the CPA in 2005 and formed a Community Preservation Act Committee for evaluating proposals submitted by individuals, town boards, committees and community groups for use of CPA funds.
The Town has undertaken over 70 CPA projects since it first adopted CPA in 2005. These are projects that may not have ever been viable were it not for the CPA funds. Taken together, these projects have helped to preserve and improve our community and quality of life.
The CPA Committee researches the Town's needs, consults with committees that are knowledgeable about each of the community preservation areas, and gathers information from the public. There are a total of nine committee members. Five members are representatives drawn from the Eastham Housing Authority, Conservation Commission, Historical Commission, Recreation Commission, and the Planning Board, while four seats are citizens-at-large positions appointed by the Board of Selectmen.
After the CPA Committee 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 drafted and presented to the voters at Town Meeting to determine whether they support funding the project as recommended by the CPA Committee.
So, while the CPA Committee has a vital role to play in how CPA funds are spent in Eastham, ultimately, the voters at Town Meeting decide which projects are approved.
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.