I’ve resided in Ogunquit for 41 years. As you can imagine, much has changed over such a span of time. Life here now is increasingly challenging.

The population in the town, home to about 1,300 residents and 268 businesses, can swell to an estimated 30,000 at times.

There was a time when tourism quieted after Labor Day, but not anymore. Very aggressive marketing of the town as a year-round destination by the local Chamber of Commerce has extended the shoulder seasons significantly.

Of the reported 2013 local retail sales of $120,550,000, the summer months accounted for 62 percent, the shoulder seasons for 34 percent and the winter months 4 percent. More than $8 million went to the state of Maine as sales tax revenue.

This activity in a town of less than 5 square miles, located on Route 1 in close proximity to Massachusetts, challenges the town’s goal of meeting the needs of both residents and tourists.

Supporting the throngs of visitors and business community is no easy task. Police, fire, public works, lifeguards and transfer station budgets represent only the most obvious costs to the town. The town budgets nearly $4 million for these services.

Homeowners suffer the consequences. In 2013, property tax revenue collected from residential property owners amounted to 80 percent of the total collected, while commercial properties contributed 18 percent.

This phenomenon raises a critical policy question: Who should be burdened with the escalating cost of tourism? Those who benefit the most – namely, tourists themselves – should shoulder the burden.

A local option sales tax, such as is currently before the Legislature in the form of L.D. 594, offers a reasonable partial solution. This legislation ought to pass.

Roger Brown

Ogunquit