Residential Tax Exemption Stalls in Falmouth

FALMOUTH – The Falmouth Select Board decided to reject adopting a residential tax exemption at a recent meeting. 

Director of Assessing Patricia Favulli spoke at a tax classification hearing at the December 5 meeting and said the board of assessors recommended the town should not adopt a residential tax exemption.

“There are many impacts to the residential exemption straight across the board. From staffing levels, to money, to having second-homeowners bear a higher tax rate,” Favulli said.

She said there’s a cutoff point for the exemption in terms of property valuation where residents would pay a higher tax bill annually. 

The Cape Cod Chronicle reported that Orleans also recently considered adopting the exemption. Town Assessor Brad Hinote said the residential exemption takes “a lot of assessed value out of the equation.”

Hinote said that the residential tax rate would therefore have to increase so that residents meet their share of the levy.

For Falmouth to consider the residential exemption next year, Favulli said the town would have to do a study to see how many people would qualify for it. 

“There’s no way my office could handle 13,000 applications for any type of abatement or exemption. It’s just not physically possible. I have two clerks who are working as fast as they can right now,” Favulli said. 

Board member Sam Patterson said the topic of adopting the exemption had been under discussion in meetings of the Affordable Housing Committee.

Patterson cited the high amount of people commuting to the Cape because they can’t afford to live in the region

Acting Town Manager Peter Johnson Staub said the board would need to direct him to set up a workshop meeting to explore the matter but that it would be an extensive amount of work to prepare to adopt the exemption by next year. 

Board Chair Nancy Taylor said she didn’t think it was the best time to pursue that option. 

“I agree that at some point it’s incumbent upon the board to take a look and to think about policy. I just don’t think the timing is right,” Taylor said.  

Board member Doug Brown said he hoped the board could revisit the matter and mentioned that Mashpee had adopted a residential exemption.

The board decided Falmouth should continue to tax at the same rate and reject the residential exemption.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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