Topics: Municipal Finance

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...

CHATHAM — Saying they need more money to promote the town as a destination, the chamber of commerce is seeking a $15,000 hike to its town budget appropriation next year, representing a 20 percent increase over the current year’s payment. On Monday, selectmen said they appreciate the chamber’s work to promote the town and could support some kind of budget increase, but they stopped short of approving the appr...

Goldsmith Proposes $30.4M Operating Budget For FY19

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — Thanks to a strong property tax base, a recovering economy and the town manager’s tight purse strings, selectmen Tuesday heard some good news about the draft FY19 town budget. Town Manager Jill Goldsmith is proposing an operating budget of $30,427,418, an increase of 0.57% over the current year’s spending plan. The draft budget not only stays within the constraints of Proposition 2½, but leaves alm...

HARWICH — The finance committee has approved recommendations by its subcommittee studying stipends for elected town officials, include increasing the stipend for selectmen from $1,500 to $2,400 annually. The final decision will rest with voters in the annual town meeting this spring, finance committee member Dana DeCosta, chairman of the subcommittee, said this week. It would be the first increase in the stipe...

ORLEANS — Another way to apportion the cost of the planned town sewer system is gaining ground. The current phased approach would burden those in the early stages with more of the cost for the treatment plant and disposal site that will eventually be used by all sewer customers. Putting the plant and disposal costs on the tax rate, rather than paying for those facilities in part with individual betterments, cou...

Town Sets 4 Percent Cap On FY19 Budget Increases

By: Ed Maroney

ORLEANS — In planning their budgets for the fiscal year that begins next July 1, department heads can propose up to a 4 percent expenditure increase over the current year. Selectmen set the standard, which applies to town and school budgets, last week. “Last year, I told the board we were at a crossroads,” Town Administrator John Kelly told selectmen Nov. 1. The standard 2.5 percent annual increase was becom...

CHATHAM – A proposed capital improvement plan for the Chatham Municipal Airport calls for more than $7 million in expenditures through 2025, with almost all of the funding coming from the state and federal governments. Among the big-ticket items in the plan are the reconstruction of the airport's parallel taxiway, a new airport administration building, and an update of the airport's master plan. Most of the...

Cape Tech Wins Big

By: Alan Pollock

HARWICH PORT — By a more than three-to-one margin, voters Tuesday gave Cape Cod Tech the green light for a $128 million new high school building. Based on unofficial tallies from town clerks in the 12 towns from Mashpee to Provincetown, the building project passed by a vote of 12,207 to 3,927, earning solid wins in each town in the district. “Most of all, this vote endorses our students,” Superintendent o...

Cape Tech Wins Big

By: Alan Pollock

HARWICH PORT — By a more than three-to-one margin, voters Tuesday gave Cape Cod Tech the green light for a $128 million new high school building. Based on unofficial tallies from town clerks in the 12 towns from Mashpee to Provincetown, the building project passed by a vote of 12,207 to 3,927, earning solid wins in each town in the district. “Most of all, this vote endorses our students,” Superintendent o...

Selectmen's Budget Message: Slow Down Spending

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — “We need to slow down and stop spending money,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill said when presenting the board of selectmen's budget message Monday night. Referring to the five-year financial analysis presented last week by Town Administrator Christopher Clark and Finance Director Carol Coppola, the message stated clearly the need of selectmen, administration, finance committee and depa...

ORLEANS — Decades ago, Massachusetts voters capped municipal budget increases at 2½ percent, plus new growth. With costs such as health benefits growing at three or four times that level, communities have looked to fees to make up some of the difference. “In 1990, the ability to raise revenues just by raising the tax rate stopped,” Selectman Alan McClennen said Sept. 20. “The whole idea of fees came up. Now ...

Selectmen Approve Debt Exclusion Ballot For Cape Tech Project

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Voters will face two separate election ballots when they go to the polls on Tuesday, Oct. 24 for a special election that will determine whether a new school will be built to replace the aging Cape Cod Regional Technical High School. Selectmen voted Monday night to allow a separate, second election. Voters will first act on the Cape Tech school building question on one ballot. Then they will have to r...