Funding Case Study: Massachusetts

Until 2000, Massachusetts communities lacked the legal authority to create a steady funding source for preserving and improving parks and open space. But in that year, the state passed the Community Preservation Act (CPA), permitting local referenda for the imposition of a property tax surcharge of up to 3 percent for open space protection, historic preservation, and affordable housing. Communities that raise local CPA funds are eligible for annual guaranteed state matching funds for use on their CPA projects. TPL was instrumental in the passage of the CPA and in the creation of the Community Preservation Coalition of nonprofit organizations, which provides strategic, organizational, and financial help to local CPA campaigns. Passage of the CPA revealed a pent-up demand for conservation across the Bay State. To date, 133 cities and towns—more than one-third of the state’s communities—have passed CPA ballot measures, and eight more measures were set to go before voters on November 4, 2008.