Topics: Municipal Finance

ORLEANS — While fire department personnel “have consistently provided the highest possible level of emergency services to the Orleans community,” according to a new study, the current staffing model “is neither sustainable nor efficient.” A staffing and organizational review by Emergency Services Consulting International recommends a reorganization to increase minimum staffing to four firefighters per shift, r...

CHATHAM – There is a level of “institutional stress” underlying next year's proposed town budget that may indicate it's time to step back, look at priorities and “take our foot off the gas,” according to a report from the finance committee. The fincom had a “qualitatively different response to the budget” this year rather than the usual quantitative approach, Chairman Stephen Daniel told selectmen last week. R...

Draft Budget Slashes Spending; Hiring Freeze In Place

By: Alan Pollock

HARWICH — Responding to clear direction from the board of selectmen, Interim Town Administrator Joseph Powers delivered an austere town budget proposal Monday that holds growth to less than half a percent in FY21. In presenting the draft spending plan, Powers announced that he has imposed a freeze on hiring for any new positions advertised after Feb. 6. Finalized just hours before this week’s board meeting, th...

Selectmen Want Movement On Bank Street Demolition

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — The former fire station on Bank Street could be demolished in the near future. Selectmen last week instructed Interim Town Administrator Joseph Powers to take the steps necessary to begin the process. Powers said Selectman Michael MacAskill requested moving ahead with the demolition plans and a site visit was held with Town Engineer Griffin Ryder and Harbormaster John Rendon. The building has not bee...

Budget Season Picks Up With News Of Tax Rate Cut

By: Ed Maroney

ORLEANS — The town’s projected budget for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1, includes a 2.9 percent decrease in the tax rate and no property tax increase. On the other hand, the first look at operating expenses for the non-school budget shows a 4.7 increase, a bit over the board of selectmen’s 4 percent cap. But there could be good news there, too, if the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group sets coverage rates lo...

ORLEANS — “New occasions teach new duties,” James Russell Lowell wrote. That thought may be helpful as Nauset Regional School District taxpayers weigh a high school reconstruction project that will benefit not only the district’s children but also some from other Cape towns as well as adult learners from the system’s four communities. The Eastham high school’s student body is a mix of pupils from Brewster, Eas...

Goldsmith Proposes $32.7M Operating Budget

By: Alan Pollock

Selectmen: Focus More On Project Management CHATHAM — Town Manager Jill Goldsmith has proposed a $32,733,626 operating budget for fiscal 2021. Designed to keep the current level of services, the budget is up nearly 6 percent over the current year’s spending plan and includes the equivalent of five new full-time employees. Selectmen praised Goldsmith and Finance Director Alix Heilala for the budget, and se...

Under-65 Tax Credit Exemption Gets Selectmen's Support

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — The town has generous tax exemption programs for residents over 65 years of age, veterans, and people who are sight-impaired, but there is little in the way of programs to help younger families and residents who are facing financial hardship. Board of Assessors Chairman Richard Waystack raised the issue of establishing a hardship exemption tax credit for people under 65 years of age during a presenta...

Municipal Solid Waste Disposal Fees Escalate

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — The lack of landfill space and other means of disposing of municipal solid waste in Massachusetts is having a major financial impact on communities. That was made perfectly clear Monday night when selectmen approved two one-year contracts with per-ton rate increases of nearly $20. “Recycling markets have degenerated and we have more trash than we have outlets,” DPW Director Lincoln Hooper told select...

Harwich FD Quint Purchase Could Save Taxpayers $900K

By: Alan Pollock

HARWICH — In the next few years, voters will be asked to fund a number of big-ticket capital projects, but the funding requests from the fire department will be a bit lower than originally expected. Facing the need for a new ladder truck and a new pumper, the department will instead seek to buy a "quint," which can perform both functions at a fire scene. The move could save taxpayers around $900,000 over the cost...

ORLEANS — Fine-tooth combs were the order of the day as the finance committee delved into the details of the Nauset Regional High School building project last week. Its guests included the chairmen of the building committee and the regional school committee as well as Superintendent Tom Conrad. Renovation and construction at the half-century-old Eastham campus could cost up to $140 million, with the district’s...

HARWICH — Thanks to the generosity of two unrelated private donors, the town of Harwich now holds the keys for a new police motorcycle and a council on aging van. Selectmen voted last week to accept both gifts and to extend the town’s thanks. The senior center van was provided by Jay Kavanaugh of Cape Destinations. Council on Aging Director Emily Mitchell said her department leases two vans from the Cape Cod R...

New Fire Substation Taking Shape

By: Alan Pollock

EAST HARWICH — Standing in sharp contrast to the aging building it will replace, the new fire substation in East Harwich is bright, spacious and modern, and it should be ready to open in time for a Nov. 30 dedication ceremony. The apparatus bay has room for two ambulances, two engines and two other vehicles. ...

Restaurant Unlikely At East Harwich Fire Substation

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Town staff has recommended against locating a restaurant in the former East Harwich fire substation, a proposal raised recently by a local restaurateur who sought to lease the building next to the new fire station. Town Administrator Christopher Clark said he has been approached by the owner of the 400 East restaurant about leasing the soon-to-be-demolished East Harwich fire substation. Clark said th...

ORLEANS — An override of the tax levy limit in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022, will be needed to maintain the current level of services, Town Administrator John Kelly told the board of selectmen Oct. 2. With declining revenue from the beaches and hotel/motel tax receipts being shifted to a stabilization fund to help pay wastewater costs, and anticipated higher costs for factors such as benefits and u...

Summer Residents Urge Prudence In Capital Spending

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — If the town doesn’t carefully prioritize spending on big-ticket items, it will be stretched thin when it comes time to borrow for upcoming phases of the multi-year, multi-million dollar wastewater project. That was the message delivered to selectmen by the summer residents’ advisory committee. Advisory committee Chairman Jill MacDonald said the committee supports a plan to prioritize large capital ...