Affordable housing tax proposal defeated

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Provincetown residents in early April narrowly rejected a proposal to require sellers of residential and commercial property to pay a fee equivalent to 1.5 percent of a property’s sale price. The proposal, which would have required the approval of the Legislature, was designed to raise an estimated $1.2 million a year for affordable housing.

The proposal, similar to one rejected by residents in 2003, included a provision allowing homeowners who are year-round residents to exempt from the tax an amount equal to the median home sale price in Barnstable County.

Board of Selectmen Chair Cheryl Andrews defended the proposal as an equitable way to make Provincetown more affordable.

“Unlike your annual property tax, which doesn’t take into account your ability to pay it, the transfer tax is geared toward taxing someone’s profit,” Andrews said. “You’re taxing, in essence, the cause of the problem, which is sky-high real estate appreciation.”

A similar measure applying to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket has received local approval, but did not make it through the Legislature last year.

While the Provincetown affordable housing measure also may have failed to win state approval, “It would have been nice to send a message to the Legislature that they’ve got to give some attention to this,” Andrews said.

Written by MMA Associate Editor Mitch Evich