Topics: Municipal Finance

HARWICH —Bond rating agency Standard and Poor's has issued a stable outlook in the town's annual credit rating, retaining Harwich's AA-plus long-term rating. The rating is an important factor in the interest rate the town gets when borrowing money. “The stable outlook on the long-term rating reflects our opinion of Harwich's very strong economy, supported by strong management with good financial policies and p...

Town Meeting Approves Sewer, Saquatucket Grant

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — An overflow of voters filled the community center gymnasium and a satellite room on the opening night of town meeting Monday, voicing support for phase two of the comprehensive wastewater management plan, a new fire station in East Harwich and additional funding for the Saquatucket Harbor landside construction project. The first night of the annual legislative session began as a slow roller with the ...

East Harwich Fire Station Cost Jumps $700K

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — The low bid for the reconstruction of the East Harwich fire station came in $700,000 more than the estimate projected by the project architects Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc. Selectmen on Monday night voted to support the $6,750,000 project to be placed before voters in the annual town meeting. Fire Chief Norman Clarke apologized for the early estimate provided the East Harwich station #2 rehabilitati...

Articles Seek Funding For Airport, Library, COA, Dredging This is the first of a three-part series looking at warrant articles for Chatham's May 14 annual town meeting. CHATHAM – It's a big year for capital expenditures. When all capital spending proposals are combined – the annual five-year capital improvement plan, water department capital projects and a half dozen special capital funding requests – ...

Orleans, Chatham Reach Beach Management Agreement

By: Alan Pollock

ORLEANS — Barring any tricks from Mother Nature, off-road vehicles will have access to North (Nauset) Beach this summer under a joint management agreement between Chatham and Orleans. After months of stalemate, and with less than three weeks remaining until the current agreement expires, Chatham and Orleans selectmen approved a one-year beach management agreement last Wednesday. With Chatham selectmen in ...

Senate, House Pass Short-term Rental Tax

By: Tim Wood

Long-sought Revenue Source Likely To Go Into Effect In 2019 With the backing of both the state Senate and House, it appears as if the extension of the room occupancy excise tax to include short-term room and home rentals is a done deal. Both houses of the legislature have passed bills authorizing the short-term rental tax, which would apply to summer home rentals of less than 90 days, as well as Air BnB-typ...

Selectmen Express Concern About Spending Increases

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Increasing costs and the town's ability to fund spending requests was a major focus Monday night as selectmen put the finishing touches on article recommendations and the FY19 operating budget. Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill pointed out that over the past nine years the budget has increased from $44 million to $65 million. The board's budget message issued last fall called for no more ...

Voters Will Decide On New Compensation Plan For Town Clerk

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Voters in town meeting in May will be asked to adjust the way they set the salary for the town clerk. The town has been making adjustments to its classification and compensation plan for department heads over the past three years under an agreement with the Service Employees International Union. A similar non-union classification system is being proposed for the clerk position. Whether this will l...

HARWICH — Officials are taking more low-key approaches to collecting back taxes, including arranging payment plans for delinquent taxpayers, than the more aggressive auction of tax liens to private investors that had been considered. The tax lien auction was seen by Treasurer/Tax Collector Amy Bullock as a way to reduce the $5.7 million in liens sitting on the books and quickly infuse money into town coffers. ...

Harwich Debt Service Costs Up 82 Percent

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Given recent debt exclusion votes, town officials are having difficulty keeping the annual budget in check. It won't get any easier as the town faces the need to fund wastewater infrastructure under the town's comprehensive wastewater management plan. With a 7.2 percent increase in the budget, projected at $65.4 million, selectmen expressed concern about the overall increase that could be presented t...

CHATHAM –Police Chief Mark Pawlina went before the board of selectmen last Wednesday to stress the need to improve security at local schools by installing bullet-proof doors and locks on classrooms and a full-time school resource officer. Pawlina had no specific spending proposal; indeed, school facilities are under the purview of the Monomoy Regional School Committee, not selectmen, so the board had no authority...

FinCom: COA Project 'Too Big, Too Ambitious'

By: Ed Maroney

CHATHAM — The ghost of the controversial fire station project hovered over selectmen and finance committee chair Stephen Daniel last week as they discussed a new senior center. “The sense of the finance committee is that we've seen this movie before,” he said Feb. 20, recalling the escalating construction costs of the station. “A $2 million to $4 million project 18 months ago is now $8 million to $10 million...

Harwich Making Headway In 'Green Communities' Bid

By: Alan Pollock

HARWICH — While town meeting will have the final say on a couple of the requirements, town officials are ticking off the boxes that will allow Harwich to receive grants and incentives under the state Green Communities initiative. Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh said that, when she worked for the town of Truro, the town met the five criteria to qualify as a Green Community and qualified for a grant of $125,0...

CHATHAM – If the town continues to sock away $150,000 a year toward its post-employment benefit (OPEB) liability, it will take more than 110 years to meet its full obligation of more than $16 million. Selectmen are eyeing a somewhat shorter timeline; they want to full fund the OPEB trust in 10 to 15 years, less if possible. To meet that goal, the board last week instructed staff to prepare town meeting arti...

HARWICH — Town Administrator Christopher Clark has proposed a balanced omnibus budget of $65.4 million for fiscal 2019, which has some modest service increases but otherwise holds the line on spending. The lean budget is one part of a larger plan to help the town boost its bond rating, which could save taxpayers millions when it comes to building a sewer system. Clark’s plan includes a $23.8 million operatin...

ORLEANS — Mike Nelligan of Powers and Sullivan, the town's new auditors, told selectmen last week that “everything went according to plan” for the fiscal year that ended June 30. “The numbers for the year were pretty much within budget,” he said Jan. 24. “You were about 2½ percent over on the revenue side, and expenses were about that number under. There were good controls.” During the audit, the firm “be...