Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CPA Woulda Coulda: six cents

On Monday I spent three long hours voting for Community Preservation Act projects. Well, except for $7000 to fix the roof of the North Congregational Church -- how did the CPA committee vote 7-0 to recommend that when Town Meeting overwhelmingly voted against it?

Anyway, the State says they'll match only 29 cents for every local dollar of CPA money collected this year. Amherst rejected an increase in the CPA tax last year; if we had voted for the increase, we would be eligible for "round 2" funding, which made me wonder: what is the 2009 match going to be for the round-2-eligible towns?

Simple question, right? Ummm, no:
...all CPA communities received a first round match of 67.62% for the October 2008 distribution. In addition, the 71 communities that adopted CPA with the full 3% surcharge received additional funding in the second round distribution. The percentage match for those communities ranged from 68% to 100%.
So some of those communities received almost no extra matching funds, and some received a bunch. Based on a really... interesting... formula that depends on population and property values.

Amherst does OK in the formula ("decile 4 -- 110% of base match"; same as Deerfield and Dunstable). Playing with the Department of Revenue spreadsheets, I can see what would've happened if Amherst was eligible last year for the round 2 funding. We woulda got $470,000 in round 1 funding, and $110,000 in round 2 funding from the State -- an 80% match.

For 2009, it looks like the State match numbers will be roughly half-- less revenue plus more communities participating means less money from the State. So if we'd voted to raise our CPA taxes to 3% we'd tax ourselves about $700,000, get about $200,000 in round 1 funding and about $50,000 in round 2 funding-- a 35% state match instead of the 29% we're gonna get.

I think Amherst voters did the right thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think not. I never thought that the match was the only important aspect of this decision. We will need the money, no matter what the match is.

I guess my position is a counter-intuitive one. I voted in Town Meeting not to put it on the ballot, because I thought it was the wrong time for such a question.

But once I lost that argument, I voted "yes" as a voter for what is good long-term for the Town. And being at the back of the line of Massachusetts communities is not good for the Town. In the crazy Prop 2.5 World of Delusion of restricted revenues with unrestricted costs, in which half-attentive citizens have been conned into thinking that they can get something for nothing, and that, if they can't, the public sector must be ripping them off, any additional money is welcome.

Rich Morse