Edgartown anticipates tax rate hike of 15 cents

Selectmen Art Smadbeck and Margaret Serpa agreed with a recommendation to allow commercial oystering in Sengekontacket Pond. — Photo by Monica Busch

The Edgartown board of assessors told selectmen Monday they anticipate an increase in the property tax rate from the current rate of $3.47 per $1,000 to $3.62 per $1,000 of assessed value in fiscal year (FY) 2017, which begins on July 1, 2016. The increase is pending certification by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

Assessor Alan Gowell said that the board of assessors recommends that the town continue to tax all classes of property — residential, commercial, and open space property — at the same rate.

“We need to delay the formal vote until the Department of Revenue certifies the values we submitted for growth and recap,” Mr. Gowell said.

Mr. Gowell told selectmen that the town’s taxable property is currently valued at $7.276 billion.

Selectmen Art Smadbeck and Margaret Serpa voted 2-0 to accept the recommendation of the board of assessors. Chairman Michael Donaroma was not present at the meeting.

Selectmen also voted to approve a commercial oyster season at Majors Cove in Sengekontacket beginning on Dec. 1, per recommendation of the shellfish committee.

Shellfishermen will be allowed to harvest oysters with rakes and tongs only. Dragging for oysters will not be allowed. The oysters were planted in the cove as part of a town project to improve water quality. The harvest is an offshoot based on an abundance of oysters.

Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall also told selectmen he is considering closing areas of Cape Poge to scalloping due to an abundance of seed, or juvenile scallops. Currently, he said, there are 15 to 20 commercial bay scallop limits a day being landed, a very poor showing. He said the committee “might consider an oyster season on Edgartown Great Pond beginning in March or April” as a way to help scallopers hurt by the poor season. Ending on a positive note, Mr. Bagnall noted that there is plenty of seed for next year.

Selectmen also voted to appoint Steve Ewing, John Magnuson, and Richard Barbini to the committee that will oversee the Memorial Wharf renovation project. The project’s current budget is $250,000. Town administrator Pam Dolby said the committee will request more funds at the annual town meeting, and likely more again in the year afterward.

Selectmen also voted to lower the yard sale license application fee from $25 to $10. Selectmen received a petition from residents that pointed out that Edgartown charged significantly more to hold yard sales than other Island towns. Ms. Dolby said that the original rate was voted on when yard sales were seemingly being used as small businesses.