BARNSTABLE, MA – Following the adoption of a short-term rental tax at the state level, leading environmental, business, property, and housing advocacy umbrella organizations on Cape Cod have formed the Future Cape Cod coalition asking Cape towns to direct the anticipated cash infusion to infrastructure and community investment priorities.
The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC), Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod & Islands Association of RealtorsⓇ (CCIAOR), and Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC), have come together to ask communities to adopt a model bylaw in Spring 2019 directing at least 50% of the local option rooms excise tax to an Infrastructure and Community Investment Stabilization Fund for housing, wastewater, broadband, transportation, and competitive marketing of Cape Cod.
Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce said, “Making these long-term investments will dictate the economic viability and sustainability of Cape Cod and using tourism derived revenue will take pressure off local property taxes – saving Cape Codders money – while creating economic opportunity for year-round residents.”
“Because of the efforts of the Cape Cod Delegation, Cape Cod towns are poised to receive a once-in-a-generation revenue infusion thanks to the inclusion of short-term rentals in the new occupancy tax law. We have one opportunity to ensure new revenue is used for long-agreed-upon, yet chronically underfunded infrastructure and community investment that Cape Codders need thrive, now and into the future,” said Alisa Galazzi, CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation.
The coalition crafted a model bylaw to segregate and protect new revenue exclusively for long-term investments. “Setting aside the new revenue before it gets absorbed into general operating budgets and before the ability to invest strategically in long-term municipal needs is lost is critical,” explained Andrew Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.
Ryan Castle, CEO of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS® said the bylaw will achieve two goals: “It will create a sustainable source of investment in long-term needs that are traditionally underfunded and vital to the sustainability of each community; and ensure that critical investments are addressed without burdening taxpayers with increased property taxes.”
Coalition members cautioned that unless the new rental tax revenues are protected, year-round residents will not see any property tax relief from needed capital costs. “Dedicating this new money to long-term spending provides towns with more budget predictability and the ability to avoid relying on a fluctuating revenue source to fund fixed operation costs,” said Gottlieb.
Northcross emphasized the importance of feeding the ‘golden goose’ of visitor revenue. “This revenue stream is derived from a highly competitive industry. In order to ensure these revenues continue to be a reliable source of capital funding, we believe it’s critical we invest in both long-term community needs as well as regional brand marketing.”
On the heels of a new report by Housing Assistance Corporation, Housing on Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing, Coalition members pointed to the urgency both residents and employers feel faced with a housing crisis. “Businesses face a double-hit. Increasingly steeper housing costs are causing employers to pay more, passing that cost onto consumers; and year-round customers to have less disposable income to spend in the local economy,” explained Northcross.
“The market has not produced the type of housing our workforce needs and we must invest in housing planning, re-zoning, and production to make that correction,” continued Galazzi. “Safe, attainable housing for all income levels and lifestyles is the key to our sustainability and could be the number one improvement to the health of our economy as a whole.”
Gottlieb said that while securing new funding for Cape towns is a tremendous achievement, particularly for wastewater, the work to wisely utilize the funds is just beginning. “Even with visitors to the Cape paying into a regional wastewater fund, towns still face significant local costs. Using a portion of the local share of the rental tax for wastewater funding will further relieve pressure on property taxes and allow for faster water quality improvement.”
Castle emphasized the need to connecting broadband from the OpenCape spine down the corridors of Station Avenue, 28A, Route 39, and the main streets of the Outer Cape. “We need to provide local entrepreneurs with the necessary infrastructure to foster new and growing year-round businesses, as well as ensure that residents and visitors have the fast, reliable internet access needed in today’s technological world.”
The Coalition also urged selectmen and town council members to invest in transportation so both locals and visitors can travel from point a to point b in a reliable, reasonable fashion.
Members of the public who wish to sign onto the open letter to local leaders and view the model bylaw can do so at www.futurecapecod.com.
Our latest Edition! Open in New Window