At its March meeting, Andrew Gottlieb briefed the Infrastructure Committee on a proposal promoted by Future Cape Cod, a coalition of Housing Assistance Corporation, Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and Cape Cod & Islands Association of RealtorsⓇ.
Future Cape Cod is asking towns to direct at least 50% of the revenue generated by local option rooms excise tax to a town-managed fund, which is controlled exclusively by each town for projects it chooses at its own discretion for housing, wastewater, broadband, transportation, and competitive marketing of Cape Cod. Andrew emphasized that the funds would be controlled and allocated at town meeting (or town council in Barnstable). Future Cape Cod has prepared a draft bylaw for consideration by Cape towns either at spring or fall town meetings.
During the discussion, it was noted that the Technology Council has long supported deployment of state of the art broadband and that adoption of the proposal would provide a basis for towns to fund last mile broadband deployment.
Promotion of tourism was also discussed. To the extent municipal budgets become more reliant on this revenue stream, promotion of tourism will have the effect of increasing overall revenues. This is particularly important in light of the decline in state funding for tourism.
The consensus at the meeting was to recommend that the Tech Council Board of Director support this proposal.
Because the bridges over the Cape Cod Canal are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, federal funding for replacement bridges is required.
The committee agreed we should recommend to the board that we send a letter supporting the efforts of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce to obtain federal funding, which is consistent with our past support of the bridge project.
The committee also heard that broadband in downtown Hyannis is waiting for release of money for economic development from the bond bill. It was also reported that Falmouth has decided not to wait for their bond money, getting a tech loan from MassDevelopment for the balance. Other towns are also actively looking at broadband.
Last Mile is still of great interest. While getting broadband in downtown Falmouth is an excellent first step, residents are looking to connect houses, businesses and condominiums. One meeting attendee will contact interested parties in Falmouth, and set up a meeting in late April. As has been mentioned before — if they can do it in Western Mass, we can do it here.
Cape Cod Technology Council has already expressed its support for broadband.