EASTHAM — Town Administrator Jacqueline Beebe presented the select board with a fiscal year 2021 budget totaling nearly $32 million on Jan. 6, representing an increase of 4 percent over the current year’s budget. But, she said, the spending increase will not require an override because total revenue for the next fiscal year is projected to be $33.3 million.
The proposed budget for capital expenditures totals about $1.5 million, including one long-term debt exclusion of $500,000 to upgrade the police dept.’s radios and 911 dispatch equipment.
The budget proposal includes a restructuring of town staff. Town Planner Paul Lagg is being promoted to the new position of community development director. Shana Brogan, whose title is now natural resources director and conservation agent, will move to administration and become grants administrator and special projects director.
Beebe said that earlier in the year the town had placed the supervision of natural resources under the umbrella of the dept. of public works. Instead of a conservation agent Eastham will have an environmental planner who will work under the direction of DPW Director Silvio Genao.
A new planner and economic development specialist will work under Lagg.
The grants administrator job, Beebe said, was a result of the large increase in grants received over the last several years, from about $300,000 three years ago to nearly $1.5 million in the last year. The administrator will monitor the use and reporting requirements of the grants and will help manage capital projects.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done so I really feel like we need some help,” Beebe said.
The new positions will add roughly $65,000 to the operating budget, according to Beebe.
In order to make these staff changes the town clerk’s administrative assistant was changed from a full-time to a part-time position. Longtime Town Clerk Sue Fischer retired in 2019 and Assistant Town Clerk Cindy Nicholson moved into Fischer’s job. Linda Sassi, who was the administrative assistant, became the assistant town clerk.
The full-time natural resources generalist position has been vacant since August and has now been eliminated. With Brogan moving to administration the natural resources director position was eliminated, leaving natural resources duties to the DPW staff.
Beebe also said that the natural resources clerk will become the community development clerk, and the part-time natural resources laborer will become a transfer station machine operator with an increase in salary but still part-time.
The town also wants to create a full-time information technology generalist to replace the now part-time specialist position and hire a part-time animal inspector who will be shared with Wellfleet.
Beebe said that for FY21 the town has developed two distinct operating budgets: a general operating budget and a water enterprise budget. The enterprise budget will cover all water operations but not the construction debt from the town water project, which will remain in the general operating budget.
The anticipated water usage fees, estimated at $250,000, will be allocated to this enterprise budget. Any remaining amount, which for FY21 is estimated at $270,600, will be subsidized by the general operating budget.
The water enterprise budget will be presented to the May town meeting as a separate article. It will no longer be part of the general operating budget, traditionally Article 12 on the warrant.
“Each year taxpayers will understand how much of it is being subsidized by the general fund or if the water enterprise fund has actually started to make money and can pay back the general fund for the things that it uses out of our general fund budget,” Beebe said.
Beebe said the town water project is on time and under budget. The system now serves more than 1,000 customers.
Beebe said budgeting goals include completing a strategic and funded plan for capital needs, developing a plan for a new DPW building and a community center and Council on Aging center, and dedicating a portion of new revenue to a capital stabilization fund.
“So that when we get these big-ticket items we don’t have to borrow or do debt exclusions in the future,” Beebe said of the stabilization fund.
The finance committee will hold meetings to discuss the proposed FY21 budget through March. The budget will appear on the May town meeting warrant.