Summary of Question 4
Sections 3 to 7, inclusive, of Chapter 44B of the General Laws, otherwise known as the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, allows communities to establish a local, dedicated funding source to protect open space; offer affordable housing opportunities; preserve historic buildings and sites; and, create recreational facilities. The Community Preservation Act would enable Hatfield to protect open space lands, including farm and forest lands, public drinking watershed areas and natural areas; acquire, rehabilitate and restore historic buildings and sites, including those owned by the Town; offer and support affordable housing opportunities, including the expansion or improvement of existing community housing centers; and, create, restore and maintain recreational facilities, including parks, playing fields and courts, trails and playgrounds.
In Hatfield, the funding source for the Community Preservation Act shall be a surcharge on real property of 3.0% of the annual real estate tax levy against real property; and in addition the Town of Hatfield hereby accepts the following exemptions from such a surcharge permitted under Section 3(e) of said Act: (1) any property owned and occupied as a domicile by any person who qualifies for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing in the Town of Hatfield, as defined in Section 2 of said Act, would be exempt from surcharge; and, (2) $100,000 of the value of each and every taxable parcel of residential real property would be exempt from the surcharge.
In addition, the Act provides for a State Community Preservation Trust Fund from which disbursements are to be made each year, but only to the Towns and Cities, which have accepted the Community Preservation Act.
A Hatfield Community Preservation Committee will be established to study potential uses of the funds and make recommendations to Town Meeting. All uses of the funds will be presented for Town Meeting approval. At least 10% of the funds for each fiscal year will be spent or reserved for later use on each of the Act's three primary purposes: open space; historic resources; and, affordable housing. The Act also limits the appropriation for administration and operating expenses of the Committee to no more than 5% of the annual revenues of the fund. A "yes" vote is a vote to accept the Act. A "no" vote is a vote not to accept the Act.