Q & A: Operation of the Community Preservation Act

Questions related to how the Community Preservation Act will work in Norwood

What are the remaining steps before CPA is approved for Norwood?
Who determines how the funds raised through the CPA will be spent?
Why would we want to have the same small group of people deciding how to spend the town’s money?
Are there any initial steps to help determine the kinds of priority projects for CPA funds?
How long will the CPA remain in effect, and can it be repealed?
Can the level of the CPA surcharge be amended?

What are the remaining steps before CPA is approved for Norwood?

Now that Town Meeting – by an 81% super-majority – has approved CPA for voting, it will be included on the November 8, 2016 election ballot. Read draft of ballot item.
Back to Top

Who determines how the funds raised through the CPA will be spent?

Project proposals will be submitted to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), consisting of representatives from the Historical Commission, Conservation Commission, Board of Selectmen [acting as the Norwood parks commission], Planning Board, and Norwood Housing Authority, with up to four at-large members appointed by the Board of Selectmen.
Note that every area supported by the CPA – historic preservation, open space, and community housing – will have at least one representative on the CPC. We assume that the at-large members will be selected so that every area eligible for CPA funding will have a fair opportunity to put forward its strongest proposals and to be considered for recommendation to Town Meeting.
The CPC will vote on proposals to recommend to Town Meeting, which will have final authority to approve the project and authorize its funds.
Veterans of Town Meeting know that every important part of town government has its supporters – passionate advocates who value certain activities above all others. No part of town government has enough passionate supporters that they can prevail by themselves. Advocates need to convince others. No one will be able to just steamroll over their fellow applicants.
Back to Top

Why would we want to have the same small group of people deciding how to spend the town’s money?

That is not how CPA works. Anyone can propose a project for CPA funding. Town Meeting makes the final decision to approve or reject funding of any project. In between those steps, there is a small group of five to nine people who have the expertise and the time to conduct a detailed review and discussion of each proposal. This small group has the limited role of shrinking the list of proposals, submitted by anyone, to a list of recommended projects for consideration and final action by Town Meeting.
Back to Top

Are there any initial steps to help determine the kinds of priority projects for CPA funds?

The language of the CPA calls for several initial steps, including a Needs Assessment by the Community Preservation Committee to identify types of projects regarded as most essential to Norwood’s future or preservation of its past.
The CPC is also charged with development of application forms and documentation of the review process, so that all proposals will provide the same types of information and have equal access to fair consideration. Information on benefits to the community, project costs, and any ongoing costs such as maintenance, will all be required on all applications for funding.
The CPC will also need to decide what kinds of assistance it and its members will be offering to developers of proposals. The CPC and town government will need to indicate who to contact with questions, depending on the type of project.
The CPC will also need to develop guidance for project directors on their obligations under town regulations and state law, including bidding and purchasing procedures. These requirements are likely to be important from the beginning, as they will affect project costs.
Back to Top

How long will the CPA remain in effect, and can it be repealed?

The CPA must remain in effect for at least 5 years after voter approval in November.
After an initial 5-year period, a town can repeal the CPA in the same way it was approved – a majority vote at Town Meeting followed by a majority vote in a town election. However, the surcharge must be left in place until all obligations incurred and funded from CPA revenues have been paid.
Back to Top

Can the level of the CPA surcharge be amended?

Yes, both the percentage rate and the rules for exemptions can be amended. As with approval and repeal, amendments require a majority vote in Town Meeting followed by a majority vote in a town election.
Back to Top