Unintended Consequence?

Guest post by Michael Chambers
My new neighbor, who bought his retirement home from a full-time resident of Charlestown, lives most of the year in Massachusetts, but intends to become a full-time resident when he retires. He asked that I just be aware of the comings and goings of people at his house, but his brother, a Westerly resident, will stop by often to check out the inside and outside of the house. This is a common thing for neighbors to do. What I did notice was that there was a constant influx of tree cutters, carpenters, HVAC installers, painters, and landscapers sprucing up the property.

Evidently, the previous owner was not up to doing a lot of repairs or the age of the house just demanded upgrades to meet specifications or the tastes of my neighbor. As most new homeowners do, he opted to have a retinue of skilled craftsmen come to the house to effect the necessary changes. These craftsmen worked without oversight of the homeowner, naturally because he lived in Massachusetts.

By the way, the craftsmen were local, Charlestown carpenters, painters, and landscapers. The tree specialist, although there were no markings on his truck, was also local, I believe. He even cut the logs in fireplace lengths and stacked the wood for my neighbor.

The next time he is in town I will ask my neighbor if the Town charges him a higher property tax as an out-of-town resident, would he still be as prone to hire local craftsmen knowing that these people are getting a sizeable cut in their property tax at his expense? Or would he hire out of town craftsmen as a response to his pockets being picked?

This is one neighbor. If all the out-of-town residents become of one mind on this issue, local craftsmen and their businesses could be at risk. Let’s say one job is a $1500 profit and the tax exemption is worth $1500, just one client could wipe out the benefit of the Homestead Tax Exemption. Any other reactionary out of towners will definitely have an adverse impact on local businesses. But what do the CDTC candidates care? The out of town landowners cannot vote anyway. If you own a local business, even a grocery store, would you chance a backlash? If the local Democrats win, it will be interesting to see how the Homestead Tax Exemption promotes the interests of local businessmen