Topics: Municipal Finance

Davis: Census Shortfall Could Cost Chatham $144M

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — If you haven’t completed the U.S. Census yet, Selectmen Chairman Shareen Davis has 144 million reasons for you to do so. “It is important to fill out the census not for today but for the future,” she said. The town stands to lose $2,400 per resident who does not answer the census. In all, 6,000 year-round residents bring the town $14.4 million in federal funding annually, amounting to $144 million ...

ORLEANS — The winds have shifted for the town’s ship of state, and it’s time to trim the sails. Next month’s special town meeting is an opportunity for a mid-course correction that could help deal with even rougher seas ahead. Voters will be asked to increase fees and, for the first time, institute a $25 residential beach parking sticker. That measure has been rejected by town meeting in the past, but the beac...

Orleans Eyes Fee Increases To Close Budget Gap

By: Ed Maroney

ORLEANS — With a million-dollar operating budget shortfall forecast for the fiscal year beginning July 2021, the select board and other officials are taking a hard look at expenses and revenues in a series of fiscal stability workshops. Last week, the focus was on fees the town charges for its services, and the potential for asking October’s special town meeting to make some changes that can take effect as early ...

ORLEANS — At an extraordinary online meeting of the town’s and regional school system’s leadership July 22, Nauset Superintendent Tom Conrad pledged that he and his colleagues will be “good partners and find ways to help each other in terms of saving precious dollars we have coming in from the community.” “We’re anxious to brainstorm with others and find ways to find savings to still serve educational needs ...

HARWICH – School budget planning is typically a challenging yearly task, but the planning of the FY21 budget for the Monomoy Regional School District has been further complicated by COVID closures and reschedules, forcing the district to opt for a one-twelfth budget as administrators await funding approval from town meetings. With Chatham’s town meeting not scheduled until June 22 and Harwich having postponed ...

A Projected Shortfall Of $4.1 Million In FY21 HARWICH — Selectmen warned department heads to expect revenue shortfalls going into FY21 and urged town departments to come together in creative ways to continue to provide services to the community. Board of Selectmen Chairman Larry Ballantine said while this year has been difficult, next year will be even more difficult. Selectmen made it clear, however, that ...

ORLEANS - Town meeting may be asked to add $12 million to the $47 million it authorized last year to complete the downtown sewer system and build a treatment plant and effluent disposal system. Five bids each were received for the sewer collection system and for the treatment plant and disposal system. Robert B. Our, of Harwich, was apparent low bidder for the sewer collection system and Daniel O'Connell's Son...

CHATHAM — Though it’s still too early to predict the exact financial impact of COVID-19 on the next town budget, officials are bracing for significant reductions and are finding new ways to trim spending and lighten the burden on taxpayers. Even so, the town's property tax rate will increase for the first time in three years. At last Thursday’s board meeting, selectmen reviewed the latest revision of the fi...

Selectmen Seek State Approval To Deficit Spend

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Selectmen Tuesday afternoon voted to send a formal request to the division of local services in the state department of revenue to allow the town to deficit spend up to $250,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in FY2020. Because of the state of emergency declared by Gov. Charlie Baker on March 10, the town anticipates extraordinary expenses, according to the letter, which will be sent to Mary Jane Handy...

COVID-19 Prompts Deep Spending Cuts CHATHAM — Thanks to the pandemic, voters at the annual town meeting scheduled for June 22 will likely see some extreme social distancing, along with a warrant stripped down of big-ticket spending articles and a sobering town budget. Selectmen chose the new date for town meeting on Monday, but a provision is in place that allows the town moderator to postpone the session f...

ORLEANS — April is proving to be the cruelest month when it comes to town finances. Department heads were asked to reduce spending through June 30, the end of the fiscal year, to ensure a reserve of about half a million dollars to balance an anticipated drop in revenues from local receipts related to the effects of the pandemic. In a letter to finance committee chairman Lynn Bruneau, Finance Director Cathy ...

CHATHAM — Facing the possibility that all sorts of fee and tax revenue will be down because of the COVID-19 emergency, town officials are preparing an austere budget plan for fiscal 2021. Finance Director Alix Heilala told selectmen Monday that she and Town Manager Jill Goldsmith are making contingency plans in case available revenue declines to 75 percent or even half of the current year’s local receipts. ...

Chief: Pandemic Not Impacting Harwich Police Operations

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — While the police department is down a couple of members, the COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted the department's operation significantly, and Police Chief David Guillemette said he considers staffing stable. Guillemette was responding to concerns raised by Selectman Michael MacAskill about the impact a spending freeze instituted by the board might have on public safety. The spending freeze applies to...

HARWICH — A freeze on non-essential spending has been put in place by selectmen in an effort to keep town costs down given the unknown financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on the community. Selectmen last week expressed concern that revenues could be lost if the pandemic keeps people away from the Cape this summer. Various taxes and fees, such as the meals and hotel taxes, would likely be lower than...

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...