With Mattapoisett voters and town officials set to take up the important and weighty work of Town Meeting starting May 13, two warrant drafts are set for review.
The Annual Town Meeting warrant contains 31 articles this year. One special warrant comes on the heels of two well-known storms: Sandy and the blizzard of 2013.
The Special Warrant is requesting that voters approve the use of free cash to pay the $45,000 cost overruns the town incurred due to storm recovery. This sum will cover overtime, additional personnel, sand, salt, and various other items needed to help the town restore services and roads for residents.
The regular Town Meeting Warrant has several articles that voters will need to pay special attention to during the session. Article No. 3, titled Appropriate for OPEB Liabilities, is seeking $297,720 to meet the town’s obligation in a fiscally sound manner for the cost of post-employment benefits. In essence, if voters pass this article, they will be helping to ensure that the $10.5 million retirement plan in place for former town employees will not bankrupt the town in the future. The present model of pay-as-you-go was recently described by Town Administrator Michael Gagne as unsound. Noting San Jose, Calif., as the poster child of poor fiscal planning –“they have cut fire, police, and other services” – Mattapoisett is proposing to set aside funding annually to help support this long-term financial obligation.
This liability and obligation, along with the $6.5 million health care program in place for current employees, needs careful management, Gagne said.
The Capitol Improvement Committee has ranked the articles proposed, most of which will be paid for from free cash, while other larger line items such as new highway equipment will require a vote to borrow the money needed.
Other articles that the voters may find of special interest are the following: Phase 3 of road improvement programs, $170,000 for tennis court repairs and improvements, the establishment of a “facility assessment committee,” four articles related to water quality and water shed issues, and the completion of sewer work on Mattapoisett Neck.
By Marilou Newell