Proposed Charlemont recreation tax gets House OK

Fingers crossed for Senate outcome

  • If passed by the Massachusetts Senate, a proposed 3 percent tax on recreation such as Berkshire East’s mountain coaster, above, would help Charlemont pay for town and emergency services. Recorder file phoeo/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/5/2017 9:50:32 PM

CHARLEMONT — The town’s proposed 3 percent recreation tax has been approved by the state House of Representatives. The next step is for the bill to be reviewed by the state Senate.

“The vote was unanimous,” state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, the bill’s sponsor, said Monday.

Tuesday, Paul Mark, state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and Charlemont Selectwoman Beth Bandy are scheduled to meet with officials from the state Department of Revenue to discuss possible objections that prevented the legislation from being approved in the Senate.

“I felt it was important to get this bill passed through the House early in the session for a couple of reasons,” said Mark. “One, it’s important to the town to get this revenue flowing as soon as possible, and, ideally, this could be done in time for the upcoming summer season.”

“But it’s also important to give the Senate as much time as possible to work through the issues that stalled things out last session,” he said.

Mark said Tuesday’s discussion will include how this bill could be implemented quickly and most effectively once it becomes law.

“We really appreciate the support from Paul Mark for moving this bill so quickly in the session,” said Bandy. “We look forward to working with Adam Hinds to get this through the senate.”

History

In May 2016, annual town meeting voters unanimously supported this 3 percent local tax, which would be used to help pay for town services, such as the ambulance service and police. These services are used by both residents and visitors who come to Charlemont to ski, kayak, go rafting or go on ziplines offered by commercial recreational companies. Berkshire East, Zoar Outdoor and Crab Apple Rafting all supported the tax and had written letters of support.

Last year, the measure had passed the House of Representatives but it died in the Senate — on the last day of the session.

If approved, Charlemont will be the first town in Massachusetts to levy such a tax; Vermont has a local-option sales tax for several of its ski areas.




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