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With a Special Town Meeting coming up on Oct. 28, selectmen will soon decide on how to fund a federal stormwater management mandate that will cost the town about $1 million outside the operating budget for each of the next three years.
On Aug. 27 the board will likely take a vote to meet the warrant deadline of Sept. 10 at 12 p.m.
The board has five options for funding the improvements:
- Property tax funding, potentially with overrides, capital exclusions or debt exclusions.
- Establish a stormwater utility fee based on the amount of impervious surface contained on a property.
- Assess a fee on new construction only.
- Adopt a municipal water infrastructure investment fund — Surtax of up to 3 percent.
- Consider reducing the 3 percent Community Preservation act surtax by a percentage to offset increases for stormwater funding.
At the July 23 Finance Committee meeting, Selectman Chairman Elizabeth Almeida indicated selectmen were leaning toward a fee because it seemed like the fairest option to taxpayers.
“Applying it based on the impervious surface is a fair way to apply the fee to get in the new revenue. I think that was the biggest driver…The fee gives selectmen the flexibility to adjust it as needed,” she said.
Unlike a property tax surcharge, she noted, a fee would not require a trip to special Town Meeting if the revenues were higher or lower than budgeted.
“I think there’s some uncertainty that comes with funding the stormwater and the fee gives the selectmen the ability to make that decision on behalf of the town to fund it at the right level without guessing…,” Almeida said.
But in an informal poll, five of the nine Finance Committee members said they favored funding the mandate with a tax.
UPDATE: The last paragraph was added on Aug. 22 to indicate the Finance Committee’s position. Links to several stormwater-related videos were also added.