More budget cuts in Oak Bluffs
Town administrator Michael Dutton offered another dire update about falling revenue to Oak Bluffs selectmen at their Tuesday meeting.
"The outlook is not cheery," said Mr. Dutton. "We're looking at substantial state cuts." He advised selectmen that a fall special town meeting would probably be necessary to make cuts in the fiscal year 2010 budget approved by voters at the annual town meeting just last month.
"I think it's important to point out the dollar impact," said selectman Ron DiOrio, who estimated the shortfall for next year's budget will be about $500,000. "That doesn't include the schools. It's going to mean significant changes in the budget."
Chairman Greg Coogan, in a later discussion of goals for the board, alluded to the possibility of layoffs of town personnel. "I hate to use that word, but as I keep hearing these budget projections, they seem to point in that direction," he said. "People don't think that will ever happen, but I think it's closer than we think." He added that he hoped that staff reductions could be achieved through attrition and retirement, instead of layoffs.
In other action, Police Chief Erik Blake presented an update to the board. He told selectmen the department is working on its third year of accreditation from the state's Executive Office of Public Safety.
"People ask why we need to be accredited," the chief said. "Would you go to a hospital that was not accredited, or a college that was not accredited?" Chief Blake said the department must meet 151 separate standards to achieve accreditation. He also said the department is applying for a $550,000 federal stimulus grant that would allow the department to retain two police officers. The federal grant would pay for salary and benefits.
The department has recently received separate grants to provide child safety seats and bike helmets for families in need, as well as grants to enforce underage drinking laws.
Also Tuesday, county manager Russell Smith showed selectmen a sample of the material that will be used to restore parking areas at Eastville Beach. The material, donated by the R.M. Packer Company, is an alternative to paving that allows storm water to drain naturally. Mr. Smith said regrading and resurfacing is expected to begin in a few days. He said there could be some temporary closures over the next few weeks.
Selectmen also voted to open the section of Lagoon Pond from the old lobster hatchery to Lagoon Road for shellfishing. They voted to close the section from Sailing Camp Park to the sandy point south of the camp to shellfishing. The closed stretch of shoreline will be seeded with shellfish this summer.