WELLFLEET — A special town election taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 8 features 10 ballot questions, all involving budget overrides and exemptions from Proposition 2½ limits.
Large purchases that involve borrowing or budget overrides must be approved both at town meeting and on an election ballot.
The biggest item on the ballot, by far, is Question 1’s proposed $3.8 million expenditure for a new secondary, or redundancy, water main. The current redundancy piping system can pump about 40,000 gallons a day, which is adequate for the town. But the existing system would not be able to handle the addition of the proposed 46 affordable housing units at 95 Lawrence Road. If the town wants to be able to build these new units, it needs to approve a new secondary water main.
Another large question in money terms is Question 10, which deals with a $150,000 renovation to Lieutenant Island Road. If it passes, the DPW plans to reconstruct and repave the road, which has “needed serious work for a few years,” Director Mark Vincent said. Vincent also plans to install stormwater structures to protect the road from storm surges. He hopes that state grants can cover much of the cost, reducing the project’s impact on taxpayers. There is no plan to raise or widen the road, which floods twice a day at high tide.
Several of the other big-money items on the ballot come from the fire and police depts.
The fire dept. is requesting two additional full-time firefighter-EMT-paramedic positions in Question 2, with a price tag of $148,000. The additions have been a long time coming, according to Fire Chief Rich Pauley.
“We are a combination department of full-time people and on-call people,” he said. “We once had an on-call staff of 16. Now it is down to five. Since we have had such a decline, we need to supplement it with full-time positions.”
This year will be the fourth year in a row that Pauley has requested additional emergency services staff.
The fire dept. is also requesting two new vehicles. One is a replacement fire and rescue command car, in Question 4, coming in at $55,000. The current car is seven years old, and “is showing underbody corrosion and rust,” according to Pauley. It was supposed to be replaced last year, but the chief decided to defer the purchase for one year to save some money.
A police cruiser also needs to be replaced for similar reasons of age and decay, which is the subject of Question 3. The new cruiser will cost $50,000.
The other fire dept. vehicle, grouped under “New EMS Equipment for Fire and Rescue” on Question 6 of the ballot, is an all-terrain buggy similar to that used by the beach dept. for transporting shark bite victims. Pauley said he hopes to supplement the beach dept. buggy with his own, which the fire dept. can use in the woods, or during snowstorms, in the off-season. Other equipment under Question 6 includes bulletproof vests and helmets as part of a Cape-wide initiative to equip fire depts. to be able to perform in situations involving an active shooter, or other hostile environments.
Replacement ambulance gear and IV pumps also fall under Question 6, totaling $80,000.
A replacement pump for the fire dept.’s forestry vehicle is on the ballot in Question 5. The pump, which is the apparatus used to douse forest or brush fires, was “jury-rigged” onto the truck in 2007 when the vehicle was first purchased, Pauley said. The chief wants to replace the pump with a better fitting and more modern version.
Another significant potential purchase on the ballot is in Question 9, which asks for $110,000 to install a sprinkler system at the Wellfleet Elementary School. When the state code first required the installation of sprinkler systems in new buildings, Wellfleet didn’t have a municipal water system, so the town got away without building one. “Someone made the decision to waive that requirement,” Pauley said. “That should not have been done.”
The DPW is responsible for Questions 7 and 8, both concerning transfer station equipment.
Question 7 asks for the $168,000 replacement of a 16-year-old backhoe. “It is showing its age, and we want to turn this curve right now,” said DPW Director Mark Vincent. The backhoe is used virtually every day at the transfer station, and is also used in the winter to clear snow off of town roads.
The DPW also wants to extend a large canopy roof over a section of the transfer station and build a guard shack for staff to observe the recycling area, which both fall under Question 8, with a price tag of $55,000.
The roof is to protect the station’s 100-yard trailers from rain and snow during the winter, Vincent said. The added protection will increase the trailers’ life span.
The guard shack is another potential addition to the new expanded recycling center. It will allow a DPW staff member to observe and monitor the recycling center at all times, which is not currently possible.
Polls open on Tuesday at noon at the Wellfleet Council on Aging. They will close at 7 p.m.