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Martha’s Vineyard residents lament lack of resources, even as island is flush with cash and beds

Playground of the powerful Martha’s Vineyard lacked the resources to care for the 50 migrants who landed there unexpectedly on Wednesday, local residents told Fox News Digital this weekend. 

But real estate data and Massachusetts state resources show otherwise: Island towns are flush with cash and plenty of extra beds to help needy people.

The town’s coffers are flush with cash. Edgartown boasts $9.8 million free cash — budget surplus — according to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. 

It would have cost only $9.1 million to give all 50 migrants their own room for an entire year at Edgartown’s swanky $500-per-night Harbor View Hotel.

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Martha’s Vineyard “is not the best place for them to start fresh,” artist “Z” Leach told Fox News Digital on Saturday during a street fair in Oak Bluffs, a town celebrated for its colorful Victorian “gingerbread homes” overlooking the ocean. 

“There’s no place to live here,” she said. “Housing is bad.”

“We have a major housing crisis as it is,” echoed Rachel Hines, who works for the nonprofit Vineyard Preservation Trust.

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She also helps run a new Oak Bluffs eatery called TigerHawk Sandwich Co. 

Martha’s Vineyard is a summer haven for the elite of Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., society.

The island is home to six individual towns.

It boasts some of the most exclusive real estate in America. 

The median home sale price on Martha’s Vineyard his year was $1.3 million, according to state data.

About 55.5% of the homes on Martha’s Vineyard are seasonal vacation homes. 

That’s the highest rate in the entire nation, according to a 2019 report by the National Association of Realtors. 

To put it another way, more than half the homes on Martha’s Vineyard are empty much of the year. 

The military was called in this past Friday to bus and ferry the migrants — mostly Venezuelan nationals — to Joint Base Cape Cod on the Massachusetts mainland just 44 hours after the migrants arrived on Martha’s Vineyard. 

They had been flown in from Florida at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The migrants landed at around 3 p.m. Wednesday. By 11 a.m. on Friday, they were shipped off the island.

The migrants were housed for two nights at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, a former whaling port now home to some of the most exclusive properties in the nation. 

Chappaquiddick, the site of the infamous 1969 bridge accident involving Sen. Ted Kennedy, which left Mary Jo Kopechne dead, is part of Edgartown. The median home listing price on Edgartown in August 2022 was $3 million.

The bounty of cash in the bank represents more than 21% of the town’s budget — among the highest rates of budget surplus of any community in America.

The biggest expense for most communities is its schools, a local municipal finance expert told Fox News Digital. 

But with so few year-round residents, Edgartown operates only one school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. 

The six towns on the island share a regional high school. 

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With Edgartown’s property so valuable and its budget so small, its wealthy homeowners enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the nation. The fiscal year 2022 tax rate on Edgartown is just 0.3%, according to local data. 

If an Edgartown home is assessed at $1 million, the homeowner pays just $3,030 in property taxes.

The three lowest property tax rates in Massachusetts are all on Martha’s Vineyard: Edgartown, West Tisbury and Chilmark, where former President Obama owns a $12 million spread. 

Chilmark homeowners pay just $2,820 on each $1 million in assessed value — a 0.28% property tax rate.

These towns could have quickly raised millions to meet the needs of migrants simply by tweaking their “insanely low” tax rates, said the Massachusetts finance expert.

Martha’s Vineyard’s stunning wealth and tax advantages coincide with a lack of racial, cultural and political diversity on the island. 

The 2020 U.S. Census reports that 89.2% of island residents are white, while only 0.5% of its population is non-U.S. citizens. 

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Martha’s Vineyard residents voted better than 4 to 1 for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Still, islanders are proud of the way their community banded together to care for 50 migrants who briefly touched down on their island for 44 hours this past week. 

“Our community comes together and helps people in need,” island resident Jeff Rose told Fox News Digital on Saturday. 

“That’s always been our mantra.”

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