(Click on the image on the right for a laugh!)
But unlike Vitameatavegamin, whose only benefit was to make Lucy tipsy, this CPA idea truly works. When a Community Preservation Committee votes at their committee meeting to recommend a project to the legislative body (Town Meeting or City Council), there is a simple step that is often skipped, and it usually leads to problems down the road.
After the vote, many CPCs do not send a formal, written recommendation to their municipal officials. Sometimes what is sent is just the most basic of information – “the CPC recommends $50,000 to fund the Town Hall historic project.” With such scant information contained in the recommendation, there are often consequences down the road when the project commences. At best, things might happen that the CPC did not expect or would never have agreed to. At worst, the rules of CPA may not be fully followed when the project is implemented. In both cases, it often triggers a call to the Coalition’s technical assistance hotline, but at that point there is little that can be done.
There are a lot of things that should be included in a CPC recommendation, and the committee should be sure to discuss all of them and then summarize everything in a written document for the town (or city). Of course, you need to specify the amount of funding and a description of the project, but you also need to identify which CPA account (or accounts) the appropriation is coming from (Click here for more information on the various accounts that make up a CPA budget). You’ll want to specify any conditions that are necessary for the project. Does a restriction need to be placed on the building or parcel? Is there a grant agreement that needs to be drafted before funding is awarded? Is there a deadline for the project to be completed? What other conditions is the CPC making a part of the project recommendation?
CPCs use a variety of formats for these recommendations, from very simple ones to extensive. We’ve collected a few examples from different communities:
- New Bedford has a particularly clean and simple format for their CPC recommendations, and it covers all the bases.
- Salem also has an excellent recommendation format, and their example features extensive information on each project.
- Newton was most likely the community that was the first to use written recommendations, and has used a similar format for years.
To be clear, there is no requirement in the CPA legislation for a written recommendation. But we can definitely report that communities that use them have far fewer problems during the implementation stage of projects. If your CPC uses written recommendations, we’d love to see more samples. And if your CPC doesn’t, consider giving it a try for your next round of project recommendations.