Monday, March 25, 2013
A query arrived this morning asking how much money we had collected from recordings for property in the city of Lowell from the surcharge imposed on document recording fees by the Community Preservation Act. That statute, which was enacted back in 2000, provided state matching funds to municipalities that increased their own property taxes to fund a variety of projects ranging from open space preservation to affordable housing projects. The matching funds came from a surcharge imposed on documents recorded at the registry of deeds. Most documents are subject to a $20 surcharge although the surcharge on municipal lien certificates is $10 and homesteads are exempt. To illustrate, the recording fee for a discharge of mortgage is $50. On top of that is a $20 surcharge from the CPA (plus a $5 registry of deeds technology surcharge) bringing the overall fee to $75. The city of Lowell has never attempted to tap the matching funds accumulated probably because no one believes that residents would voluntarily increase their property taxes to qualify for the match. It's too bad because Lowell property owners have contributed more than $4 million to the fund since it came into being back in 2000.