‘Healthy’ Free Cash Estimated

            Coming before the Mattapoisett Capital Planning Committee on October 4, Town Administrator Mike Lorenco shared the good news that, although free cash is just an estimate at this point in time, all indications point to a “healthy” number, he said. Early estimates peg the free cash number at $1.900,. With that in mind, he said that some projects could be funded in full or in part and still maintain savings in stability funds.

            A draft copy of the Special Town Meeting Warrant was shared with the Capital Planning Committee members, a jumping-off point for further discussion.

            The current draft lists 11 articles, most notably: Appropriation to Reduce OPEB $100,000; Appropriation to Debt Stabilization Fund $150,000; Appropriation to Capital Stabilization Fund $150,000; Cyclical Annual Property Revaluation $36,000; Supplemental Funding FY22 (estimate) $173,500; Capital Improvement Project Funding projects totaling $745,173: fire engine $640,000, transfer station loader $35,000, dump truck $70,000 (estimate); and Grant Matching Funding $50,000.

            Lorenco said that a new Old Rochester Regional School District stability fund is planned at the request of the school district administration via the updated regional agreement. The fund, while not under the purview of the tri-towns but of the school committee, would allow the school to plan for capital expenses in a measured five-year scheme. Lorenco said that the Town Meeting article will simply ask Town Meeting to allow the fund to be established. Any future spending from the fund will also be at the discretion of Town Meeting.

            Other areas Lorenco discussed included the need to pay accrued liability for retiring staff members, additional sums for debt stabilization, OPEB, and capital stabilization funds. A fund for grant matches was another expense the administrator believes would help manage grant matches required for nearly all grants received by the town.

            Under the umbrella of building repairs and maintenance, Lorenco said approximately $65,000 should be earmarked for repairs to Center School’s roof and landscaping, security cameras in the town wharf area, and the moving of the Transfer Station main gate with security cameras.

            A new 1-ton dump truck for snowplowing was deemed needed now versus later by the committee. Pegged into the Capital Plan for 2024 was a 550-model dump truck for an estimated $85,000. Lorenco supported buying the vehicle now, saying, “I have to plow roads.”

            The committee revisited the need to buy a new fire engine, a cost not originally planned for review until 2023. Lorenco said that Fire Chief Andrew Murray was negotiating a lower price from the current estimate of $640,000. This prompted committee member Mike Dahill to ask if a professional should be brought in to review the specification, a confirmation of what the department chief was asking for. Member Barry Denham said the fire chief knows what the department needs to protect the town, saying, “That’s why you have a chief.” But sentiment seemed to move towards seeking outside assistance. Lorenco said he’d look into the matter.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Capital Planning Committee is scheduled for Monday, October 18, at 6:00 pm.

Mattapoisett Capital Planning Committee

By Marilou Newell

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