GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

September 4, 2013

Letter: Long-term Long Beach leases don’t add up for town

To the editor:

In the face of significant needs for some $40 million of infrastructure improvements, Rockport’s Board of Selectmen may be about to make a tragic error should they continue to subsidize (to the tune of almost $2 million a year) the Long Beach renters by renewing at less than fair-market rates the 10-year leases due to expire at the end of this year.

The renters are not bad people, but merely a small special interest group that has a very good deal and understandably wants to keep it. They benefit materially from past policies and decisions that are now up for review by the selectmen.

The town owns about $60 million worth of beach-front land, from which it gets about only one-tenth of the fair market rent. Market rents would yield the town some $2 million rather than the $300,000 it now collects. This difference amounts to about 10 percent of total current tax revenues, and means that, on average, each Rockport householder is providing a subsidy of some $500 to the Long Beach renters.

The cabins on average have an assessed market value of some $100,000 to $200,000, yet three recently sold for over $700,000, yielding the former tenants a windfall profit even though the town owns the land.

Were the rents at market value, then current renters could not demand such high prices and the town, not the renters, would benefit from the $60,000,000 asset it owns. So it is natural for the current tenants to argue for a 30-year lease at current rental rates.

At the selectmen’s meeting, meeting Ms. Carbone reportedly claimed that she “already paid the worth of the land ...” True, but she did not pay the town that owns the land; rather she paid a former tenant under the assumption that the town would continue to subsidize the renters with below fair-market rents.

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