End of Fiscal Year 2022 saw Mattapoisett’s Finance Committee funding a variety of underfunded needs. Coming before the committee on September 22, Town Administrator Mike Lorenco reviewed the requested amounts line by line and department by department. There were no real surprises and all transfers were approved. The total money voted for transfer during the public meeting was $169,770, which comes from remaining unused portion from health insurance coverage.
Receiving the lion’s share from those reallocated funds are SEMASS disposal and recycling for a total of $110,400. Lorenco explained that the town had a confusing, three-contract arrangement that predated his Mattapoisett tenure.
Lorenco explained that, after discussing collection services with the Select Board, three subdivisions were successful in having their covenant amended to include trash and recyclable collection versus private service. Instead of wrapping those additional costs into existing contracts, Lorenco said new contracts were executed for the Bay Club, The Villages, and Mattapoisett Landing.
“The residents believed that, since they pay taxes like everyone else, they should receive curb-side pick-up like everyone else,” he said, noting the town agreed. Lorenco explained that the three additional contracts were not factored into the FY22 budget; a singular contract for FY23 is scheduled.
Mattapoisett Police Department will receive an additional $66,500 to cover part-time wages, and sick-leave coverage. Lorenco said much of that sum is to pay for backfilling of personnel needed due to retirements. He said that presently the department has two open slots. Lorenco also said that winter storms mandated the need for extra hiring during those incidents. It is hoped that FEMA will compensate the town for part of that spending he said, but, “…it is a long process.”
Also approved was $35,900 for the Fire Department. The overage in this expense line, Lorenco explained, came from having a large number of call firefighters responding when an alarm was sent out. “More firefighters are showing up,” he said, adding that each respondent receives a minimum of three hours call back pay. Again noting last winter’s weather-related issues, Lorenco stated that costs have climbed. The department is still shy of the 40 call-fire fighters that Chief Andrew Murray is seeking, he noted.
Also approved was $13,500 for town building equipment such as a new boiler for Town Hall, $1,180 for care of shade trees, $1,525 for care of parks, $65 for the Historical Commission, and $3,850 for fuels.
During informal discussion, Lorenco said he met with members of the UMass Collins Center team and Mattapoisett School Committee Chairperson Carly Lavin to begin dialogue around the study and subsequent report including school-consolidation options. “Everything is just fact finding for now,” he said. “There will be surveys and public meetings – I’m happy with the team mix.” Lorenco anticipates the final report sometime in late winter to early spring.
Lorenco also said that his team is working on gathering cost data from cities and towns that recently built new town halls to give Mattapoisett some sense of what a new building price tag might be.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Finance Committee was not scheduled upon adjournment.
Mattapoisett Finance Committee
By Marilou Newell