Select Board Mulls Quitting Community Preservation Program
by Connie Sartini
Groton Select Board discussed the current status of the state Community Preservation funding for the town which for this year will be a 19 percent match. This is a significant change from the original state match of 100 percent and triggered the discussion. Select Board member Becky Pine said she was “totally astounded to see an item to remove this (CPC) on the agenda,” and stressed that the CPC has “provided for some really important projects for this town.”
Selectman Josh Degen noted that the town has a commitment for the Surrenden Farm debt which expires in 2020, adding, “I don’t think we should pull out prior to that.” Colleague John Giger concurred, saying the town should be “leaving it alone until we get Surrenden Farm paid off.”
The Select Board, on a 4 to 1 (Manugian) vote, agreed to send the following letter to State Representative Shelia Harrington and to Senator-elect Edward Kennedy asking for their support to increase funding for the Community Preservation Act. Select Board member Alison Manugian said she was not in support of sending the letter because she felt that this is “not at the top of the state funding priorities.”
Letter to State Officials
The following is the text of the letter to the state officials:
“The Town of Groton adopted the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in 2004. For the last 14 years the Town has utilized this surcharge for many important projects that have positively impacted our Community.
“As you know the law provides funding for historic preservation, affordable housing, open space and parks. From preserving open space at Surrenden Farm, to providing funding to restore historic structures, to creating recreational facilities, to creating affordable housing, to renovating and replacing Fitch’s Bridge, the CPA has been a vital funding mechanism.
“While the Town is allowed to charge a three (3%) percent surcharge to fund these projects, an important part of the funding is State matching funds. As you know, the State’s matching funds come from a $20 charge collected at registries of deeds for most types of real estate transactions. This has produced around $25 million a year.
“When Groton adopted the act in 2004, there were not many communities in the program and we were able to receive a 100 percent match. Since that time, however, many communities have adopted the program and according to a recent Editorial in the Boston Globe, the match is expected to be only nineteen percent (19%) next year.
“According to that same Editorial, advocates of the CPA want to raise the registry fees to $50. The Town of Groton fully supports this increase. In addition, the Editorial further states that the State Legislature should look at other ways “to diversify the program’s funding sources so it’s less tied to the ups and downs of the real estate business.” We could not be more supportive of this course of action as well.
“The purpose of this letter is respectfully to request that you do everything in your power to increase the State’s funding to increase the matching funds to the level originally promised when the Town of Groton joined the CPA in 2004. Please feel free to contact our Town Manager, Mark Haddad, should you have any questions or need additional information on this very important request. Thank you for your attention and cooperation with this matter.”