(Home Rule Petition: Allocate Portion of Land Bank Real Estate Transfer Fee to Support Year-Round Housing)
Nantucket has long been experiencing an acute crisis of affordable and workforce housing that came further into focus during the pandemic. The shortage of stable, suitable housing that is affordable to year-rounders at a variety of income levels carries significant public health consequences with wide-ranging ripple effects. While the pandemic will end, the severe year-round housing shortage on Nantucket will not without further action.
Tremendous work has been done by conservation organizations over the past half century. As a result, over 50% of the Island is now in environmental conservation of one form or another. Thirty-five years after the Land Bank was conceived, it is perhaps time to discuss allocating a minor portion of this steady revenue stream -- for a defined temporary timeframe -- to preserving an equally important resource – our year-round community.
Town Meeting has on three occasions unanimously sent a Home Rule Petition to the State House seeking to establish a separate source of funding, also based on a real estate transfer fee. Yet the legislature has been reluctant to affirm the will of Nantucket voters. Feedback from Boston has suggested that the simple change proposed by this article may be viewed more favorably as it reallocates an existing fee versus adding a new one.
This article seeks to respond to the members of the community who have wondered if the revenue stream of the Land Bank could be shared in a manner that would allow the Land Bank to continue with its land conservation mission while simultaneously allowing another critical community mission to be addressed: to provide safe and stable housing for those who live and work on Nantucket year-round.
It should be noted this article is designed intentionally with a delayed implementation date, in order that it will not result in any financial insecurity or risk for the Land Bank or the Town of Nantucket. Delaying implementation until January 1, 2022 will allow the Land Bank to address the questions of how its outstanding debt and operating expenses can be reconfigured so that an ongoing 1.5% revenue will be adequate to serve their needs and mission during the 20 years the reallocation of the 0.5% portion would be in effect.
It is the intention of this article to ask the Land Bank to refrain from the incurring of any additional debt obligations until it can be determined that the existing and future debt obligations can be supported by 75% of its current fee (1.5%).
A reliable, steady source of funding would allow the Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) to be able to offer programs it has long envisioned: down-payment assistance for year-round home buyers, more housing options for our seniors, and the ability to incorporate greater buffers and green space in future housing development.
To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Select Board to petition the General Court for special legislation to modify the Land Bank Act of 1983 (Chapter 669 of the Acts of 1983), as amended, to have 25% of the total Land Bank fee (1/4 of the 2% transaction fee prescribed therein) be transferred directly to the Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust Fund for a period of twenty (20) years to begin on January 1, 2022 for the purposes of the creation and preservation of affordable housing in the Town of Nantucket for the benefit of year-round low and moderate income households, consistent with the Trust’s enabling legislation; provided that said special legislation shall include a requirement that the transfer of 25% of the Land Bank fee to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund shall be reduced in any given year by the amount necessary for the Land Bank to meet its then existing debt service obligations and other normal and customary operating expenses of the Land Bank as certified by the Land Bank to the Select Board each on or before June 30; and provided further that the Land Bank shall not incur any additional debt service obligations or other normal and customary operating expenses that cannot be supported by the remaining 75% of the Land Bank fee as so certified each year; and further to direct the Select Board that during the pendency of this Home Rule Petition not to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding as was contemplated in Article 30 of the 2020 Annual Town Meeting that would result in the incurring of a debt obligation of the Land Bank that would exceed its available revenue at the adjusted 1.5% fee; Or to take any other action related thereto.
(Brooke Mohr, et al)
FINANCE COMMITTEE MOTION: Moved not to adopt the Article.
FINANCE COMMITTEE COMMENT: The Finance Committee recommends Not to Adopt as we believe the trade-off should not be conservation vs. affordable housing. We support the Select Board’s proactive funding approach in Articles 8, 10 and 24, generating up to $15,400,000 for Affordable Housing initiatives in Fiscal Year 2022. There is also the possibility that the Housing Bank bill, sent several times to the State Legislature, may be gaining supporters at the State level as 9 other communities have now signed on. If enacted, the Housing Bank Bill would create a recurring revenue stream for the Affordable Housing Trust.
SELECT BOARD COMMENT: The Board supports the Finance Committee Motion and strongly supports the funding proposals in the Motions to Articles 8, 10, 24.