Reviewing just a bit, we have $623,537.23 available for CPA projects in 2015. In comparison, we have a total of $1,994,125 in requested funds from the City of Newburyport, from various boards, commissions & semi-autonomous organizations; and finally, a collection of private organizations ranging from churches to museums.
First of all, we need to understand that the Community Preservation Act is an infrastructure granting vehicle. Let’s suppose Geordie Vining, in celebration of the final completion of the Clipper City Rail Trail Loop wanted some money so they could celebrate; as much as the CPC would love to contribute, he’d still be turned down. He’d probably apply to the Cultural Council for funds instead.
Second, the Community Preservation Act is never to be used for maintenance. If the Bartlett Mall Commission wanted some money to repair those smashed park benches we all get to stare at this last couple months; as much as everyone would love to see them fixed, the CPC would have to turn them down. I completely understand that – I have to repair the signs on the Little River Nature Trail. I will be looking somewhere else for the funds. On another level, there has been some debate over the years as to the difference between historic restoration and historic neglect but that’s why we have a panel of qualified members on the commission to make that nuanced decision.
Third, The Act is setup up that at the very minimum, 10% of the money would be funneled into four categories: Affordable Housing, Historic Preservation, Open Space and Recreation. That means that at the very least, $62,534 must be dedicated to each category out of $623,537.23.
Fourthly, each project must show public benefit or show that the community is receiving benefit from the use of this allocated tax money. The theme of this program should always be: Community Preservation. Each submission must prove that the community will either benefit or be improved/preserved with this money.
Fifth, this is the people’s money.
The portion from the state match was derived by public tax; the local surcharge is a tax. And when you give out the people’s money, there are ALWAYS STRINGS ATTACHED. If a private organization doesn’t want to have the government meddling in their business, they should never apply for this money. There is a cost. The City of Newburyport with all its needs is accountable to the people; and so will a private organization if it takes this money. Buildings upgraded require a preservation restriction on them, private organizations must open their facilities to the public for public events and tours and demonstrate they contribute to the communities well-being. For example, the Old South has benefited greatly from the CPA money to upgrade their exterior – and because of it, they have regular tours and never charge for them, ever. And they participate whenever possible to open their facility for public benefit. To some organizations, that can be too steep a price.
So right now, the breakdown is spread out this way:
The City has requested $943,308 for their projects.
The Boards, Commissions and semi-autonomous organizations have requested $475,532.
And private organizations have requested $575,285.
In my next post, I will show recommendations for projects based on all the points that I just made.
Let’s see if you agree with me.
PS. It will be hard, but you need to set aside fealties, family, friendships, politics and just plain old pet projects and tell me your justification if you do differ with my conclusions. Don’t be timid, but at least think it through before you write!