MOUNT DESERT — A request by the new nonprofit organization Mount Desert 365 that the Board of Selectmen endorse its application for federal tax-exempt status was tabled by the board Monday night.
Board Chairman John Macauley said he wanted to see the organization’s by-laws and articles of incorporation before signing a resolution pledging the town’s collaboration on “solutions for increasing the supply of affordable workforce housing … and revitalizing the town’s commercial district.”
“I really applaud what you’re doing; it’s wonderful,” Macauley told Kathy Miller, who started her job as executive director of Mount Desert 365 on June 1. But he said he needed to know more about the organization and what if anything the resolution would be committing the town to do.
“I don’t want to make promises, and I’m not sure what hidden promises there are here,” Macauley said.
Selectman Wendy Littlefield said that she, too, needed more information “to make sure we are protecting the town.”
But Selectman Matt Hart said he didn’t think passing the resolution would actually commit the town to anything.
“I view it just as saying we are in support,” he said.
Miller and Mount Desert 365’s attorney, Michael Ross, said they would provide the requested documents to the selectmen, but they expressed disappointment that the board did not pass the resolution of support at Monday’s meeting.
“It is kind of burdensome that we’ve got a delay,” Ross said. “The [summer] season is on us, and there are certain individuals we want to be able to talk to [about contributing]. It’s a limited window for us.
“We want to get the 501c3 status so individuals are more likely to contribute, so they can get tax write-offs.”
Noting that the selectmen received the proposed resolution only last week, Macauley responded, “We’re not the source of the delay. We’re simply asking for a reasonable amount of time to understand what you’re expecting from the town and what our signing papers encumbers.”
Ross said the resolution that selectmen are being asked to adopt is not a requirement of the application for tax-exempt status, but it would “help expedite the process.”
“Other organizations of this nature in other communities around the country typically get a nonbinding indication of need from the town,” he said. “That’s really what the resolution is.”
The selectmen agreed to take up the resolution at their June 19 meeting.
Mount Desert 365 recently announced the acquisition of several properties in Northeast Harbor for building workforce housing. Three are on Neighborhood Road, one on Summit Road.
“You can’t overestimate the magnitude of the undertaking we’re embarking on because; if it was easy, it would have been done decades ago,” Miller told the selectmen.
“This will take great resources to create housing that is attractive and meets all of the guidelines and the desires of the community and will attract people to live here year-round.”