At the Council’s most recent meeting on November 10, Ken gave an update on the Chamber operations and initiatives, including the North Shore Blue Economy. Ken reported that the group is working to complete the Phase 1 report. Ken also gave brief updates on the Governor’s recent executive order limiting business hours and gatherings, and the status of the town of Essex’s deliberations on special event/ entertainment licensing.
The Council discussed the recent election and recommended that the Chamber communicate with area clerks and election officials to express appreciation for their administration of this year’s voting.
In November the Council also discussed the city’s request for Chamber support for special legislation for seasonal license holders in Gloucester, business relief from municipal license renewal fees and the annual tax classification deliberations in Gloucester:
- Extension of Seasonal (Liquor) Licenses: Senator Tarr and Representative Ferrante, at the request of the Mayor and City Council, have submitted a home rule petition for the temporary extension of seasonal liquor licenses for Gloucester businesses. This is being offered as a one-time measure due to the pandemic to allow those businesses with seasonal licenses to extend their seasons through the winter months. A public hearing on this petition was held on Friday, November 20 by the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. Upon recommendation by the Government Affairs Council and with support from the Chamber’s Board of Directors, the Chamber submitted testimony in support of this legislation.
- Waiving of 2021 Business License Renewal Fees: As recommended by the Government Affairs Council and with support from the Chamber Board, the Chamber has sent requests to officials in Essex, Gloucester, Manchester and Rockport asking them to consider waiving some / all business renewal license fees for 2021, consistent with several of our neighboring communities (including Salem, Beverly, Malden, Revere and Melrose.
- Tax Classification: Every year the Chamber, through our Government Affairs Council, advocates for the elimination of the city’s higher business tax rate. Through our efforts the business to residential tax differential is the lowest in the Commonwealth at 1.03. The Assessor’s Valuation Report is delayed this year due to the pandemic, but is expected shortly. The report will go to Budget & Finance and they make a recommendation for City Council discussion and vote at a public hearing on December 8. In keeping with long-standing policy, Chamber representatives will be at both meetings to advocate for tax parity. We invite members to join us in support of the business community.
The Government Affairs Council leads the Chamber’s focus on economic development and public policy, one of our key platforms. This Council meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 7:30 to 9 AM, and participation is open to any Chamber member with an interest in being engaged with our state and local government and helping foster a vibrant Cape Ann economy. Currently, those who are part of our monthly meetings include representatives from Cape Ann’s industrial, tourism, government, real estate, legal, non-profit and services sectors.
To learn more or join in these meetings, please contact Ken or me.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8.
Chair, Government Affairs Council
Scott Energy Company