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About Us

history | vision | goals

A Brief History

The Eastham Part-time Residents Taxpayers Association has an interesting history that dates back to the middle 1960's when a group of Eastham taxpayers, who lived in Eastham during the summer months and were paying seventy percent of the Real Estate Taxes, became interested in obtaining the right to vote on fiscal matters at Town Meetings and they formed a group known as The Eastham Non-Resident Taxpayers Association.

The two main leaders of this group of taxpayers were Leo Leveille and Fred Eimert who strongly voiced their concerns about the "taxation without representation" situation that exists in Massachusetts while other New England states, such as Connecticut, allow anyone owning property in a town that is assessed at more than one thousand dollars to vote at town meetings. The Connecticut statute authorizing such voting dates back to 1902 and probably was a codification of existing common law and custom.

In Eastham, the part time resident taxpayers were not only denied the right to vote at town meetings but were also not even allowed to speak at Town meetings or to serve on Town Boards. Because of this "closed door" situation, the part time resident taxpayers who were interested in becoming more active in helping to make Eastham a better place to live, felt that they were being kept "on the outside looking in" without a voice in town affairs although they were paying most of the town's taxes. This situation quickly caused this informal taxpayers group to steadily grow to over one thousand members and on October 29, 1973 they became one of the very first non-resident taxpayer associations to be legally incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and were granted the name of Eastham Non-Resident Taxpayers Association, Inc. by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

The Association's main effort to obtain non-resident taxpayers voting rights on non-elective issues at town meetings came to an end in 1981 when a bill to do so, introduced by Representative Edward Connelly of Agawam, who was also a summer resident of North Eastham, failed to get legislative approval. Among the many reasons given for the legislation's failure was the strong opposition from Berkshire counties that also have large non-resident taxpayer populations.

During the 1980's the Association kept members informed of town activities by newsletters, and the cooperation with the town continued to improve with the mutual realization that in many areas the part and full time residents have a common interest in keeping taxes low and preserving the unique beauty of Eastham. In addition to making annual gifts to the town of items that were not provided by taxes, the association created a legal defense fund to be available for use when projects harmful to the town or environment were proposed.

In 1991 the Town of Eastham approved a Home Rule Charter that created the position of Town Administrator with broad powers and duties as the chief administrative officer of the town. The charter provided for "a town meeting open to all voters" but did not contain any residency or voter requirements for any of the towns' appointed officers, board and committee members or employees. As a result of this new charter, many Association members, who were able to come to the Cape during the winter, have been appointed to serve on town boards and committees.

Vision

The purpose of this association is to enhance the betterment of the whole community of the Town of Eastham, helping to improve the quality of life for part-time and full-time residents, and to provide a voice for the members in the affairs of the town.

Goals