Senate Passes Budget Amendment to Bolster CPA Trust Fund

May 24, 2017: We're pleased to report a breakthrough in our efforts to bolster the CPA Trust Fund. Late Tuesday night during the Senate budget debate, Senator Cynthia Stone Creem's Amendment #286: "CPA Trust Fund Increase," was adopted. This amendment to the budget would provide a $25 increase to the recording fees at the State's Registries of Deeds, providing a higher state match to all CPA communities in November of 2018.  While it is difficult to make long-term predictions on the exact percentage communities would receive, preliminary estimates indicate that the increase would restore the first round distribution to a level above 30%.  The average percentage distribution for the last eight years was 31.2%.

We are extremely grateful for the support of Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka, long-time CPA sponsor Senator Cynthia Stone Creem, and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. 

"We should be proud tonight to adopt an amendment to preserve a commitment our Legislature made almost 20 years ago," Senator Creem said in her opening address regarding the amendment. She noted the program's popularity with 60% of Massachusetts residents now living in CPA communities and stated that now was time for the state to reaffirm its role in CPA by providing a stable state match. Senator Jamie Eldridge also spoke in support of the amendment, citing how he has seen CPA communities in his own district utilize the program to protect open space and historic buildings, as well as build affordable housing. He described the amendment as "a big step forward" and recognized the many advocates outside of the State House who are in support of the legislation.

What is the next step for this legislation?

A six-member conference committee is now charged with reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY18 state budget.  CPA revenue was included in the Senate version of the document, but not the House, so at the end of June we will see if the amendment is included in the final conference committee budget.  It then heads to the desk of Governor Baker.

What was included in the Senate budget amendment for CPA?

Shown below is the full text of amendment #286: 

"Section 8 of chapter 44B is hereby amended by striking it in its entirety and inserting in place thereof the following:

Section 8. (a) Except as otherwise provided, the fees of the registers of deeds to be paid when a document or instrument is recorded shall be subject to a surcharge of $45; provided, however, that if the document or instrument to be filed includes multiple references to a document or instrument intending or attempting to assign, discharge, release, partially release, subordinate or notice any other document or instrument, each reference shall be separately indexed and separately assessed an additional $45 surcharge. The fee for recording a municipal lien certificate shall be subject to a surcharge of $20; provided, however, that if the certificate includes multiple references to a document or instrument intending or attempting to assign, discharge, release, partially release, subordinate or notice any other document or instrument, each reference shall be separately indexed and separately assessed an additional $20 surcharge. The surcharges imposed shall be used for community preservation purposes. No surcharge shall apply to a declaration of homestead under chapter 188 or to the filing of any subordinate mortgage extended by any public agency or quasi-public agency, including but not limited to a Commonwealth municipality or the Massachusetts Housing Partnership. No surcharge shall apply to the fees charged for additional pages, photostatic copies, abstract cards or additional square feet for the recording of plans.

(b) The fees of the assistant recorder, except as otherwise provided, to be paid when the instrument is left for registering, filing or entering with respect to registered land shall be subject to a surcharge of $45. The fees for so registering, filing or entering a municipal lien certificate shall be subject to a surcharge of $20. The surcharges shall be imposed for the purposes of community preservation. No surcharge shall apply to a declaration of homestead of chapter 188 or to the filing of any subordinate mortgage extended by any public agency or quasi-public agency, including but not limited to a Commonwealth municipality or the Massachusetts Housing Partnership. No surcharge shall apply to the fees charged for additional lots shown on plans, for indexing instruments recorded while a petition for registering is pending, for additional certificates of sewer assessments, for old age assistance liens, for duplicates and for photocopies.

(c) All surcharges on fees collected pursuant to this section shall be forwarded to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund, established in section 9.

SECTION 2:  The commissioner of revenue shall provide notification to the registers of deeds, the assistant recorders and the joint committee on revenue that the new surcharge amounts established under Section 1 shall take effect 120 days following the passage of this section. All documents received by the registers of deeds and assistant recorders that are postmarked prior to the effective date shall be subject to the fee surcharge applicable to section 8 of chapter 44B of the General Laws that was in effect prior to that date."