UMass to pay Hadley $30K to offset lodging tax loses for using hotel to house students

  • EconoLodge hotel at 329 Russell St.

Staff Writer
Published: 12/9/2022 12:04:43 PM
Modified: 12/9/2022 12:04:22 PM

HADLEY — Hadley will be receiving compensation from the University of Massachusetts for lost lodging taxes, and impact on town services, related to the university’s use of a Route 9 hotel as off-campus housing this semester.

Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan informed the Select Board Wednesday that the town would be getting $30,000 from UMass for turning the EconoLodge, 329 Russell St., into rooms for transfer students.

“UMass recognizes that is lost revenue to the town while they are utilizing it,” Brennan said.

Brennan, Assessor Dan Zdonek and Tony Maroulis, executive director of community and strategic initiatives at UMass, met to hammer out the details of what is being called a “temporary student housing support recognition payment.”

The amount being provided is believed to be about three-quarters of what the town would have gotten from motel taxes at the property had rooms been available on site to travelers.

“UMass is not obligated to pay us anything, so this was a good faith negotiation that took place,” board member Molly Keegan said.

The board accepted the gift with members offering a thank you to UMass.

On a related topic, Board Chairwoman Jane Nevinsmith said she would like to discuss implementing a rental registry system in town that would give officials a record of properties that are being rented out, and whether property owners are following rules such as limiting homes to four unrelated individuals.

“This would help the town know where inspections needed to be made because there are often concerns about student housing, or tenant housing,” Nevinsmith said.

Nevinsmith said a fee would be assessed to property owners that would provide the needed money for compiling a database and doing inspections.

Keegan said Hadley could follow Amherst’s model and wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel, noting that the neighboring town has largely gotten the kinks out of its system. But member Joyce Chunglo expressed concern about imposing a new fee.

“I just love following Amherst,” Chunglo said as she rolled her eyes and waved her hands. “So you’re going to charge the homeowners, who already pay taxes, a fee to register?”

Fire Chief Mike Spanknebel said his department is interested in having a better way to assess costs related to responses to false alarms and other issues caused by rental homes.

The Select Board is expected to revisit the topic in January.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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