EASTHAM — Though there are still some moving parts, as Finance Director Richard Bienvenue called them, the town’s 2022 operating budget of $36,364,711, presented at the select board’s Jan. 4 meeting, represents a 4.2-percent overall increase.
“We still don’t know what our assessment will be for Cape Cod Tech or the Nauset Regional Schools,” Bienvenue said. Until then, the budget has a placeholder of $9,754,240, an increase of approximately $630,000 over the prior year.
The overall budget increase was primarily due to contractual wage increases, Bienvenue said.
The capital budget presented two significant items: $118,420 for the first year of a five-year lease of two new ambulances, and $114,766 for the first year of a 10-year lease for a Quint ladder truck.
“Both of those amounts can be financed through the ambulance fund, so no impact on the tax rate,” Bienvenue said. “Those are the biggest individually significant items in the plan.”
The only other item that is “a little unique,” he said, was $150,000 for a dept. of natural resources marine response boat for Rock Harbor.
“We’ve had this discussion about how we do our work on the Nauset Inlet versus the Rock Harbor side of things,” he said. “This would enable us to have a marine response unit on each side on each of our waterways and improve response times. That is the one item that, at the moment, we have as a capital exclusion.”
“Boy, $150,000 seems like a lot of money for a boat,” board vice chair Aimee Eckman said.
The $150,000 was an estimate, said Bienvenue.
Though the amount is not yet certified, Bienvenue said he expected free cash to be “something north of $2.8 million, which is a significant amount. But remember, we greatly reduced our 2021 local receipts, anticipating a reduction for Covid, some of which occurred, but a lot of which didn’t. And, likewise, we did not budget anything for the short-term rental tax, which came in at just under $400,000.
“I wouldn’t expect this to recur,” Bienvenue added. “It does give us some flexibility to do some things, as long as we’re not relying on that same level of funding year in and year out.”
The plan for the $2.8 million is to add $1,050,000 to reserves, use about $1 million for the capital plan, and hold $750,000 in reserve to either increase the town’s fund balances or to hedge against any further effects of Covid in the next fiscal year.
The budgets as presented would project a $9.28 tax rate, an increase of 10 cents over 2021 and just under the levy limit by $634.