Summary of Question 5
Sections 3 to 7 of Chapter 44B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, also known as the Community Preservation Act (Act), establish a dedicated funding source to enable cities and towns to (1) acquire and preserve open space, which includes land for park and recreational uses and the protection of public drinking water well fields, aquifers and recharge areas, wetlands, farm land, forests, marshes, beaches, scenic areas, wildlife preserves and other conservation areas, (2) acquire and restore historic buildings and sites, and (3) create affordable housing.
In the City of New Bedford, the funding source for these community preservation purposes will be a surcharge of 1.5% on the annual property tax assessed on real property commencing in fiscal year 2016 and annual distributions made by the state from a trust fund created by the Act. If approved, the following will be exempt from the surcharge: (1) 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 City of New Bedford, as defined in Section 2 of said Act; (2) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of class three, commercial, and class four, industrial, properties as defined in G. L. c. 59, § 2A; (3) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property. A taxpayer receiving a regular property tax abatement or exemption will also receive a pro rata reduction in surcharge.
A Community Preservation Committee will be established by ordinance to study community preservation resources, possibilities and needs and to make annual recommendations to the New Bedford City Council on spending the funds. At least 10% of the funds for each fiscal year will be spent or reserved for later spending on each of the Act's three community preservation purposes: (1) open space (including land for recreational use), (2) historic resources and (3) affordable housing.