From the Association to Preserve Cape Cod:
On Thursday the state’s House of Representatives approved legislation that will provide much-needed assistance to Cape Cod towns in their efforts to improve water quality. The action came in the form of an amendment introduced by state Representative Sarah Peake to create the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund, which was adopted as part of the short-term rental tax bill passed by the House.
The fund will provide financial assistance to towns to implement wastewater management projects intended to restore the health of the bays and estuaries on the Cape and Islands. Funds are to be made available to all towns in Barnstable County, as well as for Dukes and Nantucket Counties pending approval of a Section 208 plan.
An additional 2.75 percent fee assessed on short-term rentals will provide the revenue source for the fund.
The fund will be administered by the state treasurer with expenditures subject to the approval of a management board consisting of a representative from each town, who are to be appointed by their board of selectmen or town council. The management board will be charged with determining the method for subsidy allocation and to ensure the funds are spent for the intended purpose.
Municipalities have the ability to decline financial assistance from the fund and may and opt out of the fund after a year, or after the term of any financial assistance award is met.
The Association to Preserve Cape Cod has been a strong proponent of the fund and worked closely with the Cape Cod legislative delegation and other community leaders, including the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, in support of its adoption.
“The House of Representatives today, with the support of the entire Cape delegation and with exceptional leadership by Representative Peake, took a bold step toward addressing Cape Cod’s $4 billion water quality challenge by passing legislation that creates a fund from short term rental revenue allocated directly to wastewater improvements,” said Andrew Gottlieb, APCC’s executive director. “Clean water is APCC’s highest priority and this legislation is a critical part of making wastewater management affordable for the average Cape citizen. This is a huge step forward.”
“We greatly appreciate the support and commitment of the entire Cape Cod legislative delegation on this effort—Representatives Dylan Fernandes, Randy Hunt, David Vieira, William Crocker, Timothy Whelan, and of course, Sarah Peake in the House of Representatives, and Senators Julian Cyr and Vinnie deMacedo in the Senate,” said Gottlieb.
The state Senate is due to debate its own version of a short-term rental tax bill in the near future. Both versions must then go to a conference committee of the House and Senate to resolve differences in the legislation before going to the governor for his signature.