Money Watchers Gear up for Town Meeting

            On October 14, Mattapoisett’s Finance Committee met to review the articles being prepared for the Special Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, November 8, at 6:00 pm at Old Rochester Regional High School.

            The draft document contains 12 articles that will ask Town Meeting to consider spending some of and saving some of the estimated $2 million in free cash that Town Administrator Mike Lorenco hopes will be certified in the next few business days.

            On the save side of the ledger are such sums and accounts as $100,000 of OPEB, $150,000 to Debt Stabilization and $150,000 to Capital Stabilization.

            On the spend side for consideration is a new area titled Grant Matching Funding; Lorenco hopes that $50,000 will be approved so that town contributions as required by future matching grants will be more accessible. On the spend side will also be: $36,000 for costs associated with the cyclical property revaluation as required by the Department of Revenue; Employee Benefits accrued liability funding at $35,000; town building and grounds $65,000; a part-time staff person for the Accounting Department $27,500; and $6,000 for a new voting machine.

            When questioned about the need to hire a part-time staff person for the Accounting Department, Lorenco explained that demands on the Accounting Department have increased over the last several years primarily due to extra documenting and accounting of grant dollars received. He said that the same is true for the work performed on behalf of local schools.

            “They have more accounting work for the grants they have received, and we do that work,” said Lorenco. As things stand now, there is one person processing all the bills for the entire town, he said. The part-time position will be for 19 hours and, if necessary, could be eliminated in the future, Lorenco confirmed.

            Capital expenses are a mere three items going into the Special Town Meeting but will have a lasting impact on the community, it is believed by all committee members in attendance. Those items are: $640,000 for a new fire engine; $35,000 for repairs to the Transfer Station’s loader; and a new Ford 550 truck. The Highway Department truck, Lorenco asserted, is necessary for snow plowing and sanding operations. He said an older vehicle will be replaced by this new piece.

            Two articles planned by the Water Department remained pending for review, as Superintendent Henri Renauld has been focused on the contaminated water emergency, Lorenco said. He said, however, that the articles would deal with Renauld’s proposal to reallocate the Enterprise Funds previously approved by Town Meeting for improvement projects that came in under budget.

            Finance Committee Chairman Pat Donoghue brought up the subject of village roads repairs, wishing to keep the planned work forefront in everyone’s mind. She said she didn’t want the town to continue pushing off needed repairs. Lorenco said that the possible release of funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) may become available to the town for this major infrastructure project but that more information is needed.

            Over at the Capital Planning Committee meeting on October 18, Chairman Chuck McCullough stated in a follow-up that the committee members were in agreement that capital expenditures for a new fire engine, new Ford 550 truck for the Highway Department, and repairs to the Transfer Station Loader cannot wait until the Spring Town Meeting and need to be acted upon now. He said that especially significant in their decision to support those requests at this time is that the two vehicles will both have long lead times, up to at least 18 months before they would be delivered to the community.

            Future meeting dates for both committees were not immediately available.

Mattapoisett Finance/Capital Planning committees

By Marilou Newell

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