An increase in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding could spell more money available for a wider range of projects for Vineyard towns.
Last week, Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation that will allocate $25 million from the fiscal year 2013 state budget surplus to the CPA trust fund.
Across the state, 148 communities, including all six Vineyard towns, have adopted the act, which allows towns to place a surcharge of up to three per cent on property taxes. The state matches some of the funds from a trust, but in recent years, the match has fallen from 100 per cent to 22 per cent projected for 2012.
The funding can be used for open space preservation, historic preservation, outdoor recreation and affordable housing.
The new legislation also allows communities to expand the use for the funds to include improvements to town-owned recreational property that was not created or purchased with CPA money.
“We’re extremely grateful that we’re going to get the extra money,” said Joan Hughes, chairman of the Oak Bluffs Community Preservation Committee, this week. With decreased funding from the state, she said, towns had taken on the lion’s share of the CPA funding.
But Ms. Hughes said the more important part of the legislation is the expanded use.
“Removing that restriction, that was really what we’ve all been waiting for,” she said, saying it greatly broadens how the funding can be applied.
Ms. Hughes said there are a few projects waiting in the wings that the committee would like to be able to support, and are now able to do so.
Communities vote on how to spend the money. On the Vineyard, CPA funds have been used for a wide range of projects, including renovations to the Edgartown Lighthouse, work on the Nathan Mayhew Seminars campus, the Vanderhoop homestead in Aquinnah, the West Tisbury town hall, the restoration of stained glass windows at the United Methodist Church in Oak Bluffs, affordable housing projects and rental assistance for Dukes County Regional Housing Authority.
When towns first adopted the act, the state matched 100 per cent of the funds. But the matching rate — which varies by town, with smaller towns usually receiving more money — has fallen: for fiscal year 2012, only Aquinnah was matched at 100 per cent. The rest of the towns were matched at lower rates: Chilmark at 58 per cent; Edgartown at about 34 per cent; Oak Buffs at 36 per cent; Tisbury at 38 per cent and West Tisbury at 43 per cent.