Information about the Community Preservation Act - IN GENERAL
Berlin’s Fiscal Year 2020 property tax bills include a 3% property tax surcharge for the Town’s share of the newly established Community Preservation Fund. Berlin’s contributions will be matched by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts according to distribution formulas and availability of program revenues to fund land and historic preservation, community housing and recreation projects in Berlin.
The Community Preservation Act was established by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by the Governor in September, 2000.
Berlin voters accepted the Act at the May 7, 2018 Annual Town Meeting, and subsequently ratified local acceptance of the Act by ballot vote at the November 6, 2018 State Election.
A bylaw establishing Berlin’s Community Preservation Committee was approved at the May 9, 2019 Annual Town Meeting. The Town is currently awaiting the Attorney General’s approval of the bylaw. Once established, the Community Preservation Committee will be responsible for developing a community preservation plan, reviewing and recommending community preservation projects, and keeping records and reporting on the community preservation budget.
Description and Purposes:
The Act establishes a local Community Preservation Fund that is funded by property tax surcharges and matching revenues from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
These funding sources can be used by the Town to address core community concerns:
• Protect farm land and forests from future development
• Acquire and preserve land for conservation and recreation
• Restore and preserve historic properties
• Help meet local families’ housing needs
The Act requires at least 10% of the monies raised to be distributed to each of three primary categories:
1. Open space (excluding recreational purposes),
2. Historic preservation, and
3. Community housing
The remaining 70% of funds may be allocated to any one or a combination of the primary categories, including public recreational purposes, at the discretion of the Community Preservation Committee and subject to the approval of Town Meeting. Up to 5% can also be spent on administrative needs of the Community Preservation Committee.
Berlin’s acceptance of the Act includes a 3% property tax surcharge, and exempts property owned and occupied as a domicile by any person who qualifies for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing in the Town, $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property, and $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of class three commercial property, and class four industrial property.
Community Preservation Act exemption applications are available at the Assessor’s office and here.
ASSESSORS NOTICE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020
INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT 3% SURCHARGE APPEARING ON YOUR TAX BILL
The Town of Berlin voted to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) to begin in Fiscal Year 2020. This law requires the Town to place a 3% property tax surcharge on each parcel of taxable real estate.
The surcharge will fund the acquisition and preservation of land, historic resources and community housing.
See below for an example of the tax and surcharge calculations.
You may be eligible for an additional exemption if you meet the criteria listed below as of January 1, 2019
1. Senior households with an owner 60 years or older, that qualify as low or moderate income, are totally exempt. The maximum net income after allowable deductions is
$57,100 for a single person and $65,300 for a two-person household. Additional household member incomes must also be included.
1 Person: $ 81,340
4 Persons: $ 116,200
7 Persons: $ 144,088
2 Persons: $ 92,960
5 Persons: $ 125,496
8 Persons: $ 153,384
3 Persons: $ 104,580
6 Persons: $ 134,792
2. Other households with an owner who qualifies as low income may be eligible for an exemption. The low-income household limits are as follows:
1 Person: $ 65,672
4 Persons: $ 92,960
7 Persons: $ 115,200
2 Persons: $ 74,368
5 Persons: $ 100,397
8 Persons: $ 122,707
3 Persons: $ 83,664
6 Persons: $ 107,834
Applications for this exemption must be filed annually, by April 1, or 30 days after the first actual tax bill was mailed. C.P.A. exemption applications are available at the Assessor’s Office.
Questions should be directed to the Assessor’s Office at (978) 838-2256.
Office hours at Monday through Thursday 9 am – 1:00 pm.
The Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) was approved in Article 40 of the 2019 Annual Town Meeting on May 7, 2019. The approval is pending acceptance by the Legislature. Once approved, the CPAC Committee will be codified in Berlin General By-Law Article XXIV – “Community Preservation Act Committee”. The article was drafted, and subsequently approved by Town Meeting, is as follows:
CREATION OF COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT COMMITTEE
ARTICLE 40: To see if the Town will vote to create a new General Bylaw, to be consecutively numbered and titled “Community Preservation Act Committee,” that would establish a Community Preservation Act Committee, pursuant to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 44B; and further to authorize the Town Clerk to assign an appropriate Article and Chapter number, and to make ministerial changes to numbering to bring such bylaw into accord with numbering system used in the Town Bylaws, or take any action relative thereto.
SECTION 1. Establishment
There is hereby established a Community Preservation Act Committee, consisting of seven (7) voting members pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 44B. The composition of the Committee, the appointment authority and the term of office for the Committee members shall be as follows:
One member of the Planning Board (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 41, Section 81A) as designated by said Board for a term of three (3) years;
One member of the Conservation Commission (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40, Section 8C) as designated by said Commission for a term of three (3) years;
One member of the Historical Commission (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40, Section 8D) as designated by said Commission for a term of three (3) years;
One member of the Recreation Committee (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 45, Section 2) as designated by said Committee for a term of three (3) years;
One member of the Housing Partnership (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 121B, Section 3) as designated by said Partnership for a term of three (3) years; and
Two at-large members appointed by the Board of Selectmen for a term of three (3) years each.
Any member of the Community Preservation Act Committee appointed by a commission, authority or board that made the original designation of appointment shall serve on the Community Preservation Act Committee so long as the member serves said commission, authority or board. Any vacancy on the Community Preservation Act Committee shall be filled by the commission, authority or board that designated the member who creates the vacancy by designating another member in accordance with the above for the unexpired term.
Should any of the designating authorities under this Chapter be no longer in existence for whatever reason, the appointment authority for that purpose shall become the responsibility of the Board of Selectmen.
Initial appointments to the Community Preservation Act Committee shall be for staggered terms as follows: Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and Historical Commission designees shall serve a three (3) year term; the Recreation Committee and the Housing Partnership shall serve a two (2) year term; the Board of Selectmen appointees shall serve a one (1) year term. All subsequent appointees will serve three (3) year terms as noted above, or for designations under paragraphs (a) through (e), until their service on the underlying board has ended. Any member of the Community Preservation Act Committee may be removed for cause after a hearing by their designating or appointing authority.
SECTION 2. Duties
The Community Preservation Act Committee shall study the needs, possibilities and resources of the Town regarding community preservation. The committee shall consult with existing municipal boards, including the Board of Selectmen, the Conservation Commission, the Historical Commission, the Planning Board, the Recreation Committee and the Housing Partnership, or persons acting in those capacities or performing like duties, in conducting such studies. As part of its study, the Committee shall hold one or more public informational hearings on the needs, possibilities and resources of the Town regarding community preservation options and resources, notice of which shall be posted publicly and published for each of two (2) weeks preceding a hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town and on the Town’s website. The Committee may use its administrative funds, after proper appropriation, to pay such expenses.
The Community Preservation Act Committee shall design, implement and publicize an application process for those seeking grants from the Community Preservation Act Funds under the Committee’s management. The Community Preservation Act Committee shall make recommendations to Town Meeting for the acquisition, creation and preservation of open space; for the acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation and restoration of historic resources; for the acquisition, creation, preservation, rehabilitation and restoration of land for recreational use; for the acquisition, creation, preservation and support of community housing; and for the rehabilitation or restoration of open space and community housing that is acquired or created with Community Preservation Act Funds. With respect to community housing, the community preservation committee shall recommend, wherever possible, the reuse of existing buildings or construction of new buildings on previously developed sites.
The Community Preservation Act Committee may include in its recommendation to the Town Meeting a recommendation to set aside for later spending funds for specific purposes that are consistent with community preservation but for which sufficient revenues are not then available in the Community Preservation Act Fund to accomplish that specific purpose or recommended action to set aside for later spending funds for general purposes that are consistent with community preservation.
SECTION 3. Requirement for a quorum and cost estimates
The Community Preservation Act Committee shall not meet or conduct business without the presence of a quorum and shall keep a written record of its proceedings. A majority of the members of the Community Preservation Act Committee shall constitute a quorum. The Community Preservation Act Committee shall approve its actions by majority vote of the quorum. Recommendations to the Town Meeting shall include their anticipated costs.
SECTION 4. Amendments
The Community Preservation Act Committee shall, from time to time, review the administration of this By-law, making recommendations, as needed, for changes in the By-law and in administrative practice to improve the operations of the Community Preservation Act Committee. This Bylaw may be amended from time to time by a majority vote of the Town Meeting, provided that the amendments would not be in conflict with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 44B.
CHAPTER 5. Severability
In case any section, paragraph or part of this chapter is, for any reason, declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court of last resort, every other section, paragraph or part shall continue in full force and effect.
SECTION 6. Effective Date
Following Town Meeting approval of this bylaw, this Chapter shall take effect immediately upon approval by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth and compliance with all bylaw approval procedures under G.L. Chapter 40, Section 32. Each appointing authority shall have sixty (60) days after approval by the Attorney General to make their initial appointments.
On an interim basis only, and until the General By-Law enabling the creation of a Community Preservation Act Committee is approved by the State, the Town is proceeding to seat an Interim Community Preservation Act Committee. There are two Board of Selectmen-appointed Interim CPA Committee seats to be filled. Application for appointment by the Selectmen can be found online here.
Also note that the Board of Selectmen has approved it's own guidelines for qualifications of the two at-large members appointed by the Board:
“By statute, the Community Preservation Act Committee contains representation from 5 town boards whose jurisdictions include open space, historic resources, community housing, and recreation. To these important skill sets the Board of Selectmen may add, by its two at-large appointments to the CPAC, residents of the town who are not members of the representative boards to CPAC and who have a broad knowledge of the community’s overall needs and the financial management challenges the Town faces in meeting those needs within the limits of Proposition 2½.”
- BOS vote 9/9/2019 [underlined emphasis added]
INTERIM Community Preservation Act Committee (CPA Committee) - terms thru 6/30/2020
|MEMBER NAME||REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY|
Timothy H. Wheeler
Planning Board member/CPA Representative
Historical Commission member/CPA Representative
Recreation Committee member/CPA Representative
Conservation Commission member/CPA Representative
Board of Selectmen appointee
Board of Selectmen appointee
Housing Partnership member/CPC Representative