Mashpee has 3 Upcoming Town Meeting Articles Related to Sewer Infrastructure
April 15, 2021 Government & Community Affairs
Mashpee Select Board Member Andrew Gottlieb briefed REALTORS® on Thursday, April 8th on Mashpee’s sewer plans and upcoming Town Meeting articles that relate to the establishment of wastewater infrastructure in the town.
The Town of Mashpee has developed a plan to fund the $54 million to build out the first phase of its town sewer system. Like all towns on Cape Cod, Mashpee must address their wastewater issue, that current septic systems are not enough to contain the rising levels of nitrogen in our groundwater, which leeches into various bodies of local waters including rivers, inlets, and bays.
The Select Board has placed a series of articles on the Town Meeting warrant:
- Article 6 will authorize the town to fund construction of a facility abutting the town’s transfer station on Asher’s Path as well as build out the infrastructure of sewer lines in the most-needed areas through prepaid revenue sources.
- Article 7 will set aside a small portion of the conservation parcel for a pumping station.
- Article 8 establishes a bylaw that qualifies the project for a zero-interest loan from the state by would put restrictions on net flow. The net flow restriction would give all property owners of one acre or less four bedrooms by right and then an additional bedroom for each 10,000 square feet of lot size above 1 acre. No residence would lose a bedroom their property currently has if they exceed that flow currently.
The following Saturday, a simple majority vote approval of Question 1 during the town elections will establish a debt exclusion required to protect the Town’s high credit rating and financial stability. The question does not raise taxes, but grants the town more flexibility.
This series of authorizations will ensure that property tax bills will not increase to pay for this endeavor, nor can the debt exclusion be used for any other purpose. If any fail, the town’s plan to fund this without increasing property taxes would be in jeopardy.
Gottlieb explained how the town came to establish revenue.
“In 2020, the Town voted to decrease its CPA surcharge from 3% to 2%, which allowed us to establish a 2% tax to establish a Water Infrastructure Investment Fund,” said Gottlieb. That makes up about half of the cost.
Another 42 percent ($22.5 million) comes from funding from the local option room tax. The remainder is from the Cape and Islands Trust loan principal forgiveness and the State loan principal forgiveness fund.
There may likely be more phases in sewer construction. After a phase is completed, testing will ensue to see how sewered areas are improving and if other areas must be addressed.
“If [continuing on to future phases] does happen, we feel like we have built a sustainable financial model to cover those phases without any tax increases,” Gottlieb added.
Homeowners in the first phase, while not subsidizing the cost of the collection system, would have to pay for the cost of connection when sewer becomes available in their area.
Private contractors would perform the construction for connection, and costs would be based on the distance of the residence to the street. Such charges usually range from $2,000 to as much as $10,000 if the house is set further back and if there are obstacles that the pipe must get around. There exist county loan options, state tax credits, and other private funding mechanisms to help homeowners with the cost of connection.
The town is forecasting the cost for a homeowner once connected to sewer would be $500 a year in usage costs.
Dates to Remember
Mashpee Town Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 3, 2021 at Mashpee Middle-High School
(The full warrant will be posted at mashpeema.gov before May 3)
Mashpee voters will go to the polls on May 8, 2021 at Quashnet School and can vote between 7 am and 8 pm on the debt exclusion.