Quincy Council Approves Short-Term Rental Fee

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Quincy City Council on Tuesday approved a 3 percent fee on some short-term rentals booked through companies like Airbnb and VRBO, with a portion of the new revenue dedicated to affordable housing and infrastructure improvements.

Councillors approved adopting the 3 percent community impact fee, allowed under a state law approved in December, in an 8-0 vote Tuesday; Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy was not present for the meeting. Chris Walker, Mayor Thomas Koch’s chief of staff, on Tuesday said Koch would take the measure under advisement.

Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci, who introduced the measure at Tuesday’s meeting, said the state law approved last month includes three key provisions. Those include a registry of all properties whose owners have made them available for short-term rentals, a 5.7 percent state tax and local 6 percent tax, which are both equivalent to the hotel tax, and the optional community impact fee. The law takes effect in July.

Palmucci noted the 3 percent fee would only apply to operators who have two or more properties within Quincy available for short-term rentals.

“This 3 percent community impact fee wouldn’t be assessed on someone who just has an extra bedroom in their home or an in-law suite or something like that that they use – it would be someone who has more than one property, which is typically an investor type,” he said.

“I don’t think this hits anybody where it hurts in terms of John Q. Citizen who is trying to supplement their income by renting out an extra bedroom.”

Palmucci said several hundred properties in Quincy are listed on Airbnb. It is unknown how many of those would be subject to the 3 percent fee at this time.

There have been concerns raised about the impact short-term rentals have on the housing market in Boston and other communities.

“I hope that we’re all well aware of the potential negative impact of short-term rentals such as Airbnb-type properties can have on limiting the number of affordable housing units in the city,” Palmucci said.

The order approved by the council Tuesday sets aside 35 percent of the revenue from the 3 percent for either affordable housing or local infrastructure improvements. Palmucci said the state law allows communities to allocate up to 35 percent of the fees towards those two items.

Ward 5 Councillor Kirsten Hughes welcomed the optional fee.

“I think it’s a great idea…especially when you think about using it for a particular fund,” she said.

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Quincy Mayor Undecided On Re-Election Bid

By SCOTT JACKSON

With the calendar turned over to a new year, all eyes will be on Mayor Thomas Koch to see if he decides to seek a new term in Quincy’s municipal election this fall.

Koch, who turns 56 on Jan. 22, has been the city’s chief executive since 2008 and is now in the final year of the first four-year mayoral term in Quincy’s history. In a recent interview, Koch said he has not yet decided if he will run again this year.

“I will be making a decision in the coming weeks,” he said.

Koch said he would not announce his decision during his annual State of the City address, scheduled for Jan. 28, because he wants the speech to be apolitical.

“They will be separated,” Koch said when asked if he would make his announcement during the Jan. 28 event. “That’s the State of the City. It should not be political.”

The decision would likely be announced after the State of the City, he added.

Koch said he would speak with his wife and family first about running for re-election, and then consider his agenda and what he wants to accomplish.

“The personal part, the family stuff, having that conversation with the Mrs. Then it’s where are we with our agenda and our vision and take it from there,” Koch responded when asked what factors he would consider when making his decision.

If he were to win a new four-year term in the fall, Koch would become the longest-serving mayor in Quincy’s history. Two other mayors – Amelio Della Chiesa and James Sheets – each served for 12 years. Della Chiesa served for four years under a Plan E form of government and then eight years under Plan A; Sheets’ entire tenure was under Plan A, the city’s current form of government.

Koch said the chance to become the city’s longest-serving mayor would not factor into his decision.

“I could care less about that, quite frankly. That’s just a stat,” he said.

Koch, who worked in various roles in city government before becoming mayor, said his 11 years in office have gone by quickly.

“It’s funny, because you know I’ve been in government for a lot longer than that. So there are times I feel like I’ve been around a long time, but, as far as being mayor, it’s just whipped by,” Koch said.

Koch had $343,700 in his campaign account as of Dec. 31, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. He said he spent about $750,000 during his last re-election campaign in 2015, which included a four-way preliminary race.

In addition to Koch, all nine city councillors will be up for re-election in the fall. Three of the six seats on the School Committee – those held by Paul Bregoli, James DeAmicis and Kathryn Hubley – will also be up for grabs. City councillors serve two-year terms while school board members have four-year terms.

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Quincy Police, Ring Announce Partnership

The Quincy Police Department on Monday announced it is joining the Neighbors app to provide the Quincy community with real-time, local crime and safety information.

The Neighbors app, offered by Ring, already has millions of users and has been instrumental in catching package thieves, stopping burglaries and keeping neighborhoods safe, officials said.

Residents can download the free Neighbors app via iOS and Android online at download.ring.com/quincy or by texting “quincypd” to 555-888 from their smartphone. Once downloaded, residents can join their neighborhood and use the app to monitor activity; share crime and safety-related videos, photos and text-based posts; and receive real-time safety alerts from their neighbors, local law enforcement and the Ring team.

“I am happy to announce the Quincy Police Department’s partnership with the neighborhood watch app Neighbors by Ring,” said Chief Paul Keenan. “We are always looking for innovative ways to keep our community safe and we are proud to be the first police department in Massachusetts to partner with Neighbors in an effort to reduce crime.”

“More than ever, residents are using security cameras and smartphones to capture and share potentially crucial information,” Keenan added. “It is our hope that by using the Neighbors app, crime information and home security video can be easily shared between neighbors and police to quickly solve and reduce crimes. Working together as a community, we can make our neighborhoods safer.”

“We’re excited to have the Quincy Police Department join Neighbors to keep their community up-to-date on local crime and safety information.” said Jamie Siminoff, founder of Ring, an Amazon company. “Over the past few years we have learned that, when neighbors, the Ring team and law enforcement all work together, we can create safer communities. Neighbors is meant to facilitate real-time communication between these groups while maintaining neighbor privacy first and foremost.”

After downloading the app, you can opt-in to join your neighborhood; customize the geographic area you want to receive notifications for users must verify where they are located and cannot participate in other neighborhoods); receive real-time alerts from your neighbors, local law enforcement and the Ring team that inform of crime and safety alerts as they happen; view local crime and safety posts via a live feed or interactive map; share text updates, photos and videos taken on any device, including Ring’s home security devices; and work with your community to make neighborhoods safer.

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Over 50 Participants ‘Plunge’ For Atherton Hough School PTO

More than 50 participants of all ages took part in Saturday's 5th annual Polar Plunge at the Houghs Neck Maritime Center. Here a group of young plungers gather before taking the plunge. Proceeds from the event benefit the Atherton Hough Elementary School PTO. Quincy Sun photos by Robert Bosworth. More coverage in the Jan. 10th edition of The Quincy Sun

More than 50 participants of all ages took part in Saturday’s 5th annual Polar Plunge at the Houghs Neck Maritime Center. Shown here are some of the plungers who bravely took a quick dip in 42-degree for a good cause. Proceeds from the event benefit the Atherton Hough Elementary School PTO. Quincy Sun photos by Robert Bosworth. More coverage in the Jan. 10th edition of The Quincy Sun

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Jerry McDermott Appointed Norfolk County Sheriff

Governor Charlie Baker Monday announced the appointment of Jerry McDermott as Norfolk County Sheriff to serve out the remainder of former Sheriff Michael Bellotti’s term.

Jerry McDermott

Jerry McDermott

With over 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors ranging from a Boston city councillor to co-founder of a Substance Abuse Task Force, McDermott most recently served as chief of staff at the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM). His appointment as Norfolk County Sheriff is effective Dec. 24.

“Jerry McDermott has the leadership skills, experience and knowledge to serve as Norfolk County Sheriff,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With over three decades of service to communities across the Commonwealth, Jerry has focused on building partnerships with local and state agencies as a Boston city councillor and successfully co-founded the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force leading initiatives to combat drug and alcohol abuse. I am confident that he will serve the people of Norfolk County with integrity.”

“Jerry McDermott’s professional accomplishments and commitment to the people of Norfolk County and the Commonwealth have prepared him well to serve as Sheriff,”said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I look forward to partnering with him to meet the needs of the cities and towns across Norfolk County.”

“I am honored that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have put their trust in me to serve as Norfolk County sheriff,” said Jerry McDermott. “I’m looking forward to working with the professional law enforcement team, local officials and community leaders involved in the recovery community. There is a great deal of work to do in lowering the recidivism rate and enhancing initiatives focused on successful re-entry programs.”

Jerry McDermott has 30 years of experience in the public and private sector. He was named chief of staff at the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) in March of 2018. Prior to joining DCAMM, Jerry handled Community Relations & Economic Development for Eversource. He was the state director for former U. S Sen. Scott P. Brown. He also served as executive drector of the South Shore Habitat for Humanity. Before running the Habitat affiliate, Jerry served as a Boston city councillor from 2002-2008. As a councillor he ran the Committees on Ways & Means, Post Audit & Oversight and Historic Preservation. He also served as co-chair of the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force, spearheading initiatives in the community to address drug and alcohol abuse though education, prevention and awareness such as a Youth Drug Summit, Boston’s first Teen Alcoholics Anonymous group and a Parent Drug Survey used to understand the community’s perspective of drug abuse.

During his time on Council, McDermott worked with colleagues to lead the development of the first sobriety high school and he fought against the overprescribing of OxyContin.

McDermott resides in Westwood with his two daughters.

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