Mattapoisett finalizes Special Town Meeting warrant

Oct 22, 2021

MATTAPOISETT — The Mattapoisett Select Board voted to finalize the Special Town Meeting warrant at a Oct. 22 meeting. The bulk of the approved articles will focus on apportioning this year’s unusually high amount of free cash into various reserve and stabilization funds.

“Free cash” is money that is leftover at the end of a fiscal year because of underspending in the town budget or underestimations in the revenue that would be collected.

Though the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has not yet officially certified the town’s free cash amount, it is expected to come in at over $2 million, the most the town has ever had.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Select Board Member Jordan Collyer. “We’ve never had this much free cash before.”

According to Town Administrator Mike Lorenco, the large amount of free cash is due to cost-saving measures taken during covid, conservative revenue estimates and federal funds appropriated to the town as part of pandemic response plans.

Of the more than $2million in free cash, about $1.3 million will be spent or apportioned by various articles in the Special Town Meeting that will take place on Nov. 8.

The largest of those expenditures would be for funding capital improvement projects which would account for $760,000. The bulk of the capital improvement spending would go to replacing one of the town’s fire engines, a $650,000 expense, but money would also be allotted to repair a transfer station loader ($40,000) and to replace a Ford 550 pickup truck for the Highway Department ($70,000).

Several other articles would move money from free cash into reserve or stabilization funds which act as town “rainy day funds” for various purposes. However, adding money to a stabilization fund does not mean that it can be spent freely by the town. Funds can only be withdrawn from a stabilization fund with a two-thirds vote at a Town Meeting.

Of the funds being allotted money from free cash, the largest amounts would go to the town’s capital stabilization fund and debt stabilization fund, which would each receive $150,000. Additionally, $100,000 would be added to the Mattapoisett Other Post Employment Trust Fund.

Other proposed free cash allotments include: $107,000 in supplemental funding for the 2022 fiscal year budget, including $50,000 for town employee benefits, $50,000 for town building improvements and repairs, and $7,000 for a new voting machine; $36,000 for cyclical annual property revaluation and town mapping; and $50,000 to establish a grant matching fund.

Also on the warrant will be two articles that would update the ORR regional school agreement, which has not been amended since 1986. The new agreement has already been passed by Marion and Rochester at their respective Town Meetings.