January in Town

From the Desk of Town Manager Libby Gibson.

What's Up in Town Administration?

FY 2020 General Fund Budget Status

On December 19, 2019, Town Administration presented its Fiscal Year 2020 General Fund Budget Recommendations to the Board. There was some discussion about a potential override for Our Island Home, so as to separately fund the subsidy that the facility’s operation receives from the General Fund. The Board did not reach a consensus on whether or not to pursue voter approval for this. The Board held a public hearing on the budget at its meeting on January 9 and thereafter endorsed the budget as presented, to be forwarded to the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee has budget review meetings scheduled throughout January and February. The Committee will finalize its budget recommendations for Town Meeting by early March.

2019 Annual Town Meeting

The Board has had several discussions about potential articles for the Town Meeting; the Finance Committee has held public hearings on the citizen articles and is continuing to deliberate as to its recommendations. The Select Board will adopt the warrant at its January 30, 2019 meeting, Finance Committee public hearing will now be on February 12, 2019 with publication of the warrant in the newspaper on February 7, 2019. At the end of December, state legislation was enacted that expands the room occupancy tax to short-term rentals. As of this writing, the Board was discussing a warrant article in connection with the tax percentage.

Select Board Chair Jason Bridges, Vice Chair Dawn Hill Holdgate, Town Manager Libby Gibson, and Municipal Finance Director Brian Turbitt checking in at the January 2019 MMA's 40th Annual Meeting and Trade Show.

Nomination Papers for Annual Town Election Are Now Available

Papers are available for the following elected offices and are due back by Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

News from The Airport:

Meat by the Pound: a Primer on Airport Landing Fees

As an Enterprise Fund of the Town, the Airport is supported by user fees, and not the general tax levy. Landing fees make up a large portion of Airport income, and user-based fees ensure that the Airport is funded by travelers and tenants, not the broader tax base. While it may not be not scintillating to the public, Airport economics (specifically landing fees), may be best understood by looking at the local meat counter. Imagine the Stop and Shop butcher as the Airport, the shopper as the aircraft operator, and the cut of meat purchased as the aircraft.

The first thing you’ll notice is that every customer pays the sticker price. This includes the butcher’s daughter, neighbor, and ex-spouse's lawyer. Discrimination isn’t allowed in retail. Discrimination also isn’t allowed in aviation. Just as the same two customers pay $3.99 per pound of ground chuck, two different operators of the same aircraft type should pay the same price per landing. At ACK, this basic landing fee is currently $2.75 per 1,000# of aircraft weight.

Aerial view of Nantucket Memorial Airport runway during a busy summer day.

There are exceptions, but they are formalized. Stop and Shop provides opportunities to customers for cost savings by contractual arrangement: a Stop and Shop card. These discounts have maximum utility to those who buy frequently and repeatedly – mostly local community members providing the store’s core business. The regulations differ at the Airport, but parallel in concept. The FAA allows airports some leeway to identify “Signatory” Airlines, and offer them discounted fees. ACK defines Signatory Airlines as those providing year-round service: Cape Air and Rectrix are the year-round customers and beneficiaries. Their landing fee is $1.99 per 1,000# of aircraft weight (or $13.50 for C402).

The two variables in meat purchase are also true for landing fees. Meat is sold by the pound. A bigger steak costs more than a smaller one. The same is true for airports: the bigger jets take up more space and cause more wear and tear on the pavement (JetBlue’s E190 is charged $305 per landing). The other is placement and perception. A filet gets front placement at eye level. But it pays for the privilege with a high markup. The private G650 is the corollary here, accruing fees of $839 per arrival.

Store location is also important. Shelf items on Nantucket tend to cost more than on the Cape. But here the analogy diverges. To support aviation, ACK has kept landing fees low. The Cape Air C402 that pays $13.50 at ACK would pay $15.75 at HYA. The jetBlue E190 that pays $343 at MVY only pays $305 at ACK. The standard ACK landing fee of $2.75 per 1,000# is nearly half the industry average of $5.19/1,000#: the Signatory rate of $1.99 per 1,000# is similarly discounted compared to the industry average of $4.25/1,000#.

To some, the filet is overrated, and they’d just as soon make the ground chuck into a burger. It’s a matter of opinion. The same is true of setting landing fee rates. Some might view the discounted costs of operation as a lost market opportunity, and determine that rates should be marked up (like that eye-level filet in the store). Others might view the low rate as incentive to attract related activity: the purchaser of that ground chuck might also buy buns, tomatoes, cheese, and an onion. And this is the fundamental argument at every airport – is it a business enterprise or a public service?

The current answer is hangar steak - high value, and often underrated. And that pairs well with its status as an Enterprise Fund: the Airport operates as a public service, but with the expectation to cover its own costs. And it’s a good place to be. There’s no going back from overcooking a steak, and ACK has the capacity to turn up heat and raise rates if philosophy and markets change.

Public Works Parks & Recreation Master Plan

The Town of Nantucket has undertaken a town-wide Parks and Recreation Master Plan effort to understand current and future needs, condition of existing facilities, and identify priorities for improvements.

Consultant Weston & Sampson continues to gather information and input from stakeholders and the general public through various outreach opportunities with the goal of publishing a report in spring of 2019. Once the town-wide Parks and Recreation Master Plan is published, an already identified priority to move forward with improvements is the Tom Nevers Field.

Tom Nevers Park in December 2018.

During the 2019 winter season, the Department of Public Works will be holding Public Information Sessions regarding various ongoing and future improvements, and to listen to concerns and comments from the general public and other stakeholders. Find the full list of public sessions here.

Energy Office Update: HeatSmart Nantucket Program

HeatSmart Nantucket is the latest local program to offer smarter, cleaner alternatives to help Nantucket residents and businesses save on their energy bills. With support from a group of local volunteers and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Town of Nantucket is offering Nantucket home and business owners a simple way to learn about and purchase high-efficiency, year-round solar hot water systems and cold-climate air source heat pumps. Visit http://wepowr.com/heatsmartnantucket for more information and to sign up for a FREE solar hot water assessment.

Friends visiting during the winter months?

David Sharpe from Culture & Tourism has you covered with his Winter Guide 2019.

Sunset at Cisco Beach during winter 2019.

Winter IS here. Fire Chief Murphy has some advice on how to keep you and your loved ones safe.

New Fire Station is on schedule!

Construction of the new fire station is well underway, with an estimated turnover date of mid April, 2019.

Town Employees Receive OSHA Training

Last Tuesday, January 14, 2019, Town employees from a variety of departments attended a training session held by Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Representative Marina Brock at the Public Safety Facility.

During the session, employees received a comprehensive overview of the newly enacted Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) standards required by the Department of Labor (DOL).

Mass Municipalities have historically not been required to comply with OSHA regulations. In 2018, that change and as of February 2019, municipalities must comply. The Town was audited by DOL last summer, corrective actions plans developed and we are seeking an appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget to develop a town-wide plan for on-going safety compliance.

Police Department and Harbormaster Summer Recruitment Has Started.

The Nantucket Police Department is currently accepting applications from suitable persons for the positions of Community Service Officers and Reserve Police Officers for the 2019 Summer season. See full job descriptions and applications here.

Nantucket Harbormaster is seeking lifeguards for the 2019 Summer season. Applicants must have:

  • a current American Heart Association or American Red Cross Cardiopulmonary Certificate that is valid through September 2019.
  • a current American Red Cross Lifeguard Training Certificate that is valid through September 2019.

See full job description and application here.

If You Haven't Yet, Remember to Subscribe to NantucketAlert!

Nantucket Alert: Town's Emergency Alert System powered by CivicReady

After the 2017-2018 Nor'easters, the Town decided to acquire a new mass notification system that will help Emergency Management staff provide immediate information to our residents in weather (or other) emergencies.

Nantucket Alert allows the Town to inform you in a time of immediate need. Once you sign up, you will have the opportunity to customize how you prefer to be contacted in case of an emergency or other events. For more information, visit the Nantucket Alert page HERE.

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Florencia Rullo

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