Summary of Question 4
Sections 3 to 7 of Chapter 44B of the Massachusetts General Laws is known as the Community Preservation Act. The Act allows communities to approve a surcharge on real property of not more than 3 per cent of the tax levy, as determined annually by the board of assessors, to establish a dedicated source of funds for the acquisition, preservation and creation of open space and land for recreational use, for acquisition and preservation of historic resources, and for creation, preservation and support of the community housing. Acceptance of the Act also entitles communities to receive an annual distribution from the Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund, which supplements the funds collected pursuant to the surcharge approved by Town Meeting and increases the available funds for eligible projects.
As approved under Article 2 of the Special Town Meeting held on February 12, 2001 and by the voters at the 2001 Annual Town Election, the surcharge was fixed at one (1%) percent on the annual property tax assessed on real estate. On a motion made under Article 38 of the 2006 Annual Town Meeting, the Amherst Town Meeting voted to increase the surcharge by one-half (1/2%) percent which, if approved by the voters, would increase the surcharge to one and one-half (1 1/2 %) percent. If approved, the additional surcharge would be imposed on taxes assessed for fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2007.
The Act contains certain mandatory exemptions and allows communities to elect to include certain optional exemptions. Town Meeting has elected to include optional exemptions which will remain in effect whether or not the additional surcharge is approved. The following are the optional exemptions adopted by Town Meeting: 1) Any taxpayer exempt from real property tax is exempt from any surcharge under the Act; 2) Any taxpayer receiving a tax abatement is entitled to a reduction of the surcharge in the proportion of the abatement; 3) Any property owned and occupied as a domicile by a person who qualifies for low income housing or moderate income senior housing in Amherst is exempt from the surcharge, and; 4) One hundred thousand ($100,000.00) dollars of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real estate is exempt.