Truro’s new town manager, Darrin Tangeman, started work last month, having arrived here from his previous home in Woodland Park, Colo., where he was the city manager. We’re looking forward to getting to know him, after hearing the glowing reviews he got from town officials who interviewed him.
“He’s a leader, a people person,” said Jan Worthington of the select board. “He’s a researcher, he builds bridges, he forms consensus.”
Tangeman’s first two weeks on the job started with two closed-door sessions with the select board to discuss his contract. No one would say what the issue was, but we imagined that the Kansas native, who spent 22 years in the military, might have been dismayed by the cost of housing here. His contract requires that he live “within commuting distance of Truro.”
Tangeman’s starting salary is $172,000. Reporter K.C. Myers asked him if housing costs were behind the renewed talks, and he sent her an email. “On the topic of real estate,” he wrote, “I would encourage you to reach out to local real estate agents in the local area who can provide some statistics on the most recent market changes in Cape Cod real estate. I think you will find that the housing inventory is at all-time lows and housing prices are at all-time highs. If you look at the trends over the last three months you might be surprised at the unsustainable trajectory.”
As it happens, we talk often to local real estate agents, and to people who work on housing. They have a lot of the same worries about sustainability. We’ve been reporting the statistics and the trends in the Independent. We know that the median sale price of a single-family house in Truro was $1,260,000 in November, and that, according to the Cape Cod Commission, a household would need to have an annual income of about $290,000 to be able to afford that median-price house.
We also know, thanks to the commission’s online database, that the median annual household income of Truro residents was about $65,000 — before the pandemic.
On page 9 of this week’s issue, Paul Benson has put together an introduction to the treasure trove of data that the Cape Cod Commission has assembled and made remarkably accessible. The numbers there tell a story that is not at all surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to the housing market and employment landscape of the Outer Cape. That story is essentially the same in each of our towns, with small variations.
“Unsustainable” is an accurate, if not understated, way to describe this picture. How, then, are we to sustain community life here? The research has been done. Now it’s time for leadership, bridge-building, and consensus on taking action.