$1 million wastewater plant upgrade tops Oak Bluffs warrant
Oak Bluffs voters will gather on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to take action on a special town meeting warrant that includes some hefty spending items, including $1 million for upgrades at the wastewater plant and $140,000 for an addition at the senior center. Voters will also tackle a number of financial housekeeping items on the 16-arcticle warrant.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 pm at the Oak Bluffs School on Trade Winds Road.
The largest spending item is a request from the town wastewater department for $1 million to fund the engineering and construction of a primary clarifier and related equipment for the Oak Bluffs wastewater plant. The filter would help remove fats, oils and grease from the wastewater flowing into the plant.
Joe Alosso, Oak Bluffs wastewater plant superintendent, said that grease has been on ongoing problem at the plant. The grease continually coats and clogs other parts of the plant that treat the wastewater, Mr. Alosso said, and if grease continues to be a problem it would become exceedingly difficult to continue to meet the Department of Environmental Protection's mandatory water quality discharge standards. "This is the one project that will help the plant run more efficiently, and actually effects our discharge permit," he said.
This week, Mr. Alosso said that the town would borrow the $1 million, and that half of the money to pay back the loan would come from wastewater plant revenues, and half would come from an increase to the property tax rate. He said that the average homeowner in Oak Bluffs (with a home assessed at $550,000) would pay $14 a year over ten years.
Most of the other spending items on the special town meeting warrant would be funded by the town's so-called "free cash" reserves. The largest request for a free cash transfer is article seven, which asks for $140,000 for an addition to the Oak Bluffs senior center on Wamsutta Avenue.
Roger Wey, council on aging director and Oak Bluffs selectman, said the new addition would be about 1,500 square feet, and would be located in the parking lot adjacent to the current building. He said the building is too small to accommodate all the day-to-day activities in the senior center, adding, "This is something that has been needed for years."
The council on aging also wants to turn its outreach coordinator position from a part-time to a full-time job. Article six asks voters to transfer $10,500 from free cash to fund the extra hours.
Article five asks voters to pay for a newly created position in the building department. The article asks for $28,152 from free cash to pay for a zoning administrator.
Among the other free cash transfers, article one asks voters for $56,264 to fund the ongoing environmental air quality, ground water, and other testing at the old Oak Bluffs landfill. The Oak Bluffs board of health took over the responsibility of monitoring the landfill earlier this year.
Article nine asks voters to transfer $50,000 from free cash to pay for needed improvements to several town buildings. According to the warrant, the work includes roof repairs at the town hall and the old library, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) work at both the old and the new town hall.
The town parks department is also looking for money for some outdoor improvements around town. Article eight asks voters for $40,000 from free cash for sidewalk repairs in Ocean Park, Washington Park, and Waban Park.
Also pertaining to town parkland, article two asks for $10,000 from free cash for hoses to extend the drainage capacity for Niantic and Veira Parks.
Article 12 asks for $12,500 for needed improvements around the harbor. According to the warrant, the money is needed for electrical upgrades, new transient mooring chains, resurfacing the dinghy dock, and replacing the floating launch dock. Instead of a free cash transfer, the money would come from the harbor's ferry fees account.
There are several financial housekeeping items on the warrant, including a request for $35,000 to cover a shortfall created by "a legal judgment/settlement." Part of the money is needed to cover the settlement that the selectmen reached with Richard Mavro, former building inspector, who resigned from the job in June after coming under heavy fire for a number of building and zoning decisions. The details of the settlement agreement have not been made public.
Article four asks for $12,000 to avoid a potential shortfall due to contractual union salary obligations for town employees.
Article 10 asks for $25,000 from free cash to fund paramedic training through fiscal year 2006.
There are only two non-spending articles on the warrant. Article 15 asks voters to amend the town's wetland protection bylaws to correct several clerical or transcription errors.
Article 16 asks voters to authorize the board of selectmen to give the state property easements at the so-called Little Bridge. The easement is for a section of land at each of the bridge's four corners, and includes about 1,200 square feet of land in total. The easement is needed before MassHighway can move forward with its plans to replace the aging bridge.