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Community Preservation Act Funding Recommendation Clarification

During discussion of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) article (Article 8) at Town Meeting on June 13, 2020, it became apparent that there was some misunderstanding about the Community Preservation Committee’s (CPC) process on recommending proposed projects to Town Meeting. Specifically, why the sprinkler system at Prescott School was recommended to Town Meeting while last year’s high school track project was not.
     Firstly, project applications are evaluated, scored and compared against other applications received during the same application and funding cycle. Project applications that were not recommended to Town Meeting are eligible to re-apply the following year. If the re-submitted application has been improved or the competition for funds in the following year is less then the chances of the CPC recommending funding are improved.
     Secondly, the Community Preservation Act (MGL Chapter 44b) requires CPA funds to be allocated to one of four bins out of which projects get funded. The bins are “Community Housing”, “Historical Resources”, “Open Space and Recreation”, and “Unallocated Reserve”. The law requires at least 10 percent of CPA revenue be allocated to each of the housing, historical and open space and recreation bins.
     It has been a practice of CPC to place the minimum allocations in the first three bins and maximizing the balance in the unallocated reserve bin. Since any CPA-eligible project can be funded from the Unallocated Reserve, this offers the most flexibility for the CPC to recommend the best projects to Town Meeting irrespective into which category they fall.
     A second CPC practice is to fund all recommended projects first out of their respective CPA bins which again maximizes the balance in the unallocated reserve fund.
     In general, the Community Housing and Historical Resources bins tend to be undersubscribed. The Open Space and Recreation Bin is essentially emptied by the annual Surrenden Farm debt service payment.
     This means that many project applications end up competing for funds from the Unallocated Reserve bin. This is why sometimes lower scoring historical projects can be recommended to Town Meeting when higher scoring Open Space and Recreation projects are not.
     If a project meets the CPC’s minimum requirements and there are CPA funds available to fund the project then it gets recommended to Town Meeting. Town Meeting makes the final decision.
Groton Community Preservation Committee
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