What's up in Town Administration
This time of year, we are busy initiating preparations for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting (scheduled to start Tuesday, May 7, 2024) and budget development for the next fiscal year. This involves scheduling dozens of meetings, looking at what has come up since or before the last town meeting with respect to potential warrant articles and budget requests; economic indicators; and numerous other factors and emerging information for both the town meeting and the budget. This year we are also preparing for a special town meeting on November 7, 2023. The Finance Committee is finishing its motions to the warrant articles and the Select Board will be considering any comments it might have to warrant articles, on October 4th. The warrant will then be printed and mailed to voters 2 weeks prior to the town meeting. The warrant has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese (available on the Town website).
Short Term Rental Special Town Meeting Articles 1 & 2 - Virtual Info Sessions:
These info sessions will feature panelists from the Finance Committee, Town Counsel, and the disbanded Short-Term Rental Work Group, and will be moderated by Select Board Vice Chair Brooke Mohr. See the Short Term Rental Articles FAQ page for more information on the articles.
FY 2025 General Fund Budget
A strong real estate market is certainly an indication of economic conditions – and Nantucket’s real estate market could be described as "holding," currently. There are other indicators as well, such as unemployment, interest rates, inflation, wages, economic sentiment, local receipts, grant opportunities and state aid. We are monitoring these on a regular basis. Our FY 25 budget projections take these factors into consideration. We hope to continue our focus on operational areas that need additional resources, including infrastructure, project management, facility maintenance, staffing, recruitment and retention, and furthering items in the Select Board Strategic Plan. We reviewed our preliminary projections with the Finance Committee on September 12th and the Select Board on September 27th. Our budget recommendations will be reviewed with the Select Board on December 13th.
We are also continuing to evaluate recruitment and retention strategies, including housing. In 2022, we engaged a consulting firm to develop a compensation and classification study for Town employees outside of the School Department. The study was completed this year and presented to the Select Board on May 10, 2023. We are planning to “refresh” the schedule during this fiscal year. It is important that the Town be competitive with compensation including benefits in order to attract and retain the employee resources needed to operate. With respect to housing, like most employers on the island, we have a serious and growing problem housing our employees. At the 2022 Annual Town Meeting, voters approved a $1M appropriation for a Town employee housing assistance pilot program. After significant research and discussion with our unions, we were not able to reach agreement on a specific program. The complexities of it were also making it very difficult, with equity, tax and other issues. We are seeking to re-appropriate these funds at the November 7th Special Town Meeting for a different employee housing initiative. We have also been renting and occasionally purchasing, as funds allow, housing for Town employees.
Other Select Board/Town Administration News/Activities
- Sconset Beach Preservation Fund erosion control project – will be discussed by the Select Board on October 4th
- Planning for storm water infrastructure improvements around the Island
- Planning for multi-use path and road improvement projects around the Island
- Our Island Home – Senior Center project
- Preparing for an October Select Board Strategic Planning workshop. The Select Board will hold its annual workshop on October 24th to review progress on its Strategic Plan and current goals. The Department Heads have completed a survey indicating their sense of the Town’s emerging needs. That information is being compiled by the consulting firm, Raftelis, to present at the workshop and to help frame the Select Board’s discussion.
- Review of significant upcoming capital projects with the Select Board on September 27th
- Planning for Somerset Sewer Needs Area sewer extension project - overview provided to the Board on September 20th
- Solid waste long-term planning
- For the Record - The Town recognizes the importance of responding to the media to ensure transparent communication, provide accurate information, and build trust with our community. Read the latest responses to local coverage here.
Baxter Road Alternative Access
On October 4th, the Select Board will review the 60% design for Baxter Road Alternative Access. This is a plan for access for the properties north of Bayberry Lane. These properties are at risk of losing access and utilities if Baxter Road were to breach or become unstable. The current design has a set of access tracks that lead to Sankaty Road. Utilities such as sewer and water will be in the same track corridors. Sewer and water will go south on Sankaty Road along the bike path and reconnect to Baxter Road via Bayberry Lane. Baxter Road has some protections, however there are large areas that have no protections from erosion and could breach in a future storm or slippage event. This is a form of retreat planning to increase longevity of access to this historic area, maintain the usability of the properties, and allow access to Sankaty Head Lighthouse and stunning seascapes.
Fire Department News
This Sunday, October 1st - Community Wildfire Awareness Day!
Join us this Sunday, October 1st, for the Community Wildfire Awareness Day at Tom Nevers Park. You'll have the opportunity to learn about wildfire preparedness, see wildland fire trucks, heavy brush moving equipment, MA State Police helicopters, and a water drop demonstration. Plus, don't forget to grab a photo op with special guest, Smokey Bear!
New Vehicles for Emergency Response
The Fire Department recently acquired three new vehicles (ambulance, pickup truck, UTV) to be used for emergency service response. The ambulance is equipped with all of the latest safety equipment and will be used as an Advanced Life Support vehicle. The pickup truck will be used for emergency calls, and in situations of inclement weather, will plow the way for ambulances. The UTV is a small “All-Terrain Vehicle” that will be used to assist on emergency calls on the beach and in the areas of the island that are not accessible to standard emergency vehicles.