The Dennis Assessor’s recently provided me with a breakdown in changes to the tax base in the Town of Dennis. As we prepare for the upcoming Dennis Town Meeting, and the proposed changes for the Hotel Resort District and the Seasonal Resort Community District, it is important to know how the town has been changing. When this is understood, the reason we need to ensure we have a balanced approach to commercial and residential land use changes. Without a balanced approach, residents will continue to foot a larger and larger share of the tax burden in town.
In 1999 residential uses carried about 89% of the tax burden, while commercial land uses carried 11%
In 2009, this had changed such that the commercial share of assessed values had dropped by a third, from 11% in 1999 to 7% in 2009. This drop in the share of the local tax burden was due to residential values increasing by 219.1% while commercial values only increased by 99.9%.
Looking at this in a slightly different fashion, in 1999 the average home paid about $7 in taxes for every dollar paid by commercial enterprises in town. In 2009, the average residence was paying $12 in property taxes for every dollar paid by commercial properties. These figures illustrate a rising residential property tax burden for government services. Altering this trend will be difficult. It will take efforts by the town to make commercial investment more attractive. Given town desires to not adversely impact the existing open spaces and residential neighborhoods, investment will need to be promoted within existing commercial areas. The obvious areas are the existing village centers in Dennisport and West Dennis, older hotel areas in Dennisport, the Route 28 commercial strip and the commercial area around Exit 9. These areas have tremendous current value, and equally advantageous opportunities to continue to balance the town’s tax base.
The first brick is positioned to start the rebuilding of Dennisport. The interest shown by Summit Realty Partnership in the village illustrates the strong future we have envisioned for that village. There is equal interest in many cottage and land owners to reinvest in cottages and the cottage colonies on Old Wharf Road if we pass the Seasonal Resort Community Zoning. The hotel properties along Chase Avenue have also shown great interest in the ability to reinvest in those properties should we loosen the existing land use restrictions on those properties.
Overall, the town, under the guidance of the Economic Development Committee, Planning Board, Board of Selectmen and the Zoning By-law Study Committee, is well positioned to promote commercial reinvestment in Dennis. Reinvestment, which will allow the town to continue to pursue the schools and other services town residents desire.