What's up in Town Administration?
This time of year we are busy initiating preparations for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting 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; economic indicators; and numerous other factors and emerging information for both the town meeting and the budget.
2021 Annual Town Meeting and Town Election
Mark your calendars:
- Monday, April 5th – 2021 Annual Town Meeting will start (at 6:00 pm)
- Tuesday, April 13th – 2021 Annual Town Election
We have prepared a timeline for the above and are starting to prepare a preliminary outline for potential warrant articles. The Select Board will kick off an initial discussion about warrant articles at its October 14 meeting.
Note regarding Citizen Warrant Articles: If you are a citizen whose article was called at the June 25, 2020 ATM but not voted on, it will automatically be placed on the 2021 Annual Town Meeting warrant – you do not need to take any further action to ensure that it goes on the warrant. If you are considering submitting a Citizen Article, please refer to the attached guidance.
FY 2022 General Fund Budget
The Director of Municipal Finance and I reviewed FY 22 preliminary General Fund budget projections with the Finance Committee on September 14th and with the Select Board on September 16th. We expect – at least at this point – that FY 22 will be a difficult budget year due to uncertainty surrounding COVID19 and its impacts on the economy at the national, regional and local levels. We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. We do not expect to initiate much in the way of new programs or staffing, in fact it is entirely possible that we may have to look at those areas for potential reduction. We are closely watching economic indicators such as the local real estate market, local receipts, state aid, interest rates, unemployment and other signs as to what FY 22 might “look like”. We are also acutely aware of the fact that we reduced our current budget (FY 2021) at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting and thus did not fund several new positions that would have helped further items in the Board’s Strategic Plan, including downtown parking management, and efficient town operations with respect to public works activities and associated staffing needs.
Our Island Home
As part of an effort begun in late spring to develop a definitive long-term plan for the OIH facility, as noted in last month’s e-newsletter, over the summer we engaged a facilitator to help determine consideration factors including facts vs assumptions; core community values; options and possibilities – with associated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (a so-called SWOT analysis); and, held 5 stakeholder forums to obtain input from employees, family members, Our Island Home residents and the general public on all of these items. The input was gathered directly into a report which will be reviewed with the Select Board at its October 14 meeting.
Third Sewer Force Main Project
A presentation on this project was given at the Select Board’s September 9, 2020 meeting. The Board voted to proceed with Option 2A. Visit the project website for more information.
On September 1, 2020 Wannacomet Water Company sampled all 5 wells for PFAS compounds in anticipation of pending regulatory initiatives being proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). PFAS testing is not required at this time by Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations (310 CMR 22), this was voluntary action taken by the Town and Water Company.
Results returned on September 16, 2020 indicated that no PFAS compounds were detected above proposed drinking water standards. Only two water wells measured any PFAS above the laboratory detection limits. They are as follows:
20 Parts per trillion for the total allowable concentration for up to six specific PFAS which includes PFOA. Only PFOA was detected in the samples that have been collected and analyzed. Currently this PFAS Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) exists as a MassDEP Office of Research and Standards Health “Advisory” Level.
MassDEP guidelines require a second confirmatory sample be collected. It is unusual to find only a single PFAS compound present when there is a source of groundwater contamination. Therefore, follow-up confirmatory samples are being taken from wells 13 and 15 by the Wannacomet Water Company. The confirmatory samples will be sent to two independent, EPA approved laboratories for further analyses. Results will be provided when they become available.
More information on PFAS compounds may be found here and is provided by MassDEP. If you have further questions regarding the Wannacomet Water Company and its testing, you may contact 508-228-0022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Town has begun an initial island-wide assessment of where PFAS compounds may be a contaminant. The Town hired CDM Smith, an environmental consultant, and will develop an initial risk assessment of potential sources contributing to PFAS contamination. This project started in mid-August and this initial assessment is planned to be complete in October. If you have any questions about this, please contact PFAS@nantucket-ma.gov or find updated information here.
Needless to say, the COVID19 Global Pandemic continues. We are seeing signs in our own community of what one might call “COVID Fatigue” with people drifting from established safety protocols when they independently decide the protocols are not needed. As a result we had two surges in cases in September. Safety protocols are in place for a reason. We cannot overemphasize the need to follow them and maintain them. The need for protocols won’t last forever. But it most likely will last a few more months. We need to do our best to keep the vulnerable people in our community safe; and, keep our Hospital from becoming overwhelmed with cases. We are not out of the woods on this. We are working on ways in which to reinforce, refresh and “reinvigorate” this message. The Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the Town’s Health & Human Services department are collaborating on The COVID Grief Project, a way in which to remind people how becoming lax with vigilance can lead to devastating results – results which have affected people in our community, directly.
Coastal Resiliency Interim Policy
While the Town’s Coastal Resiliency Advisory Committee works with a consultant to develop a Coastal Resiliency Plan, the Committee put forth an interim recommendation for applicable Town projects commencing after August, 2020. We have disseminated the policy and our Coastal Resilience Coordinator Vincent Murphy will work with departments on this as needed.
Deborah Dilworth, the Town’s Assessor for 37 years, retired at the beginning of September. She was recognized by me and by the Board at the Board’s September 9th meeting. Click here to view the Tribute to her. Deb did a fantastic job for the Town – she was (is) well recognized across the state as an expert in her field and also taught assessing classes for municipal officials for many years, on behalf of the Commonwealth. Deb has always been readily available for questions, assistance and advice. I will miss her but she has assured me that I can call her if needed! Thank you Deb, and best wishes!
Debbie Dilworth on her last day at work.
Deb’s replacement is Robert Ranney who has extensive experience with Nantucket real estate and has worked in the Assessor’s office for the past 3 years. We look forward to working with him.
I also wish to recognize Geno Geng, founder of GenoTV. He is leaving Nantucket after 34 years. Geno operated GenoTV with various changes in channels and names over the years, but always with the same philosophy – to bring information to our community, topics of human interest, promote local business and local culture. He and I did a weekly program called “What’s Going on in Town Government?” for many years. Geno also taped the Select Board and other Town meetings for many years – well before NCTV was established. I will miss our “banter” during our weekly show – he made me laugh so many times and sometimes, eh, I had trouble composing myself! Geno: Thank You and Good Luck with your future endeavors. keep in touch!
November 3rd General Election Deadlines & Information
IN PERSON: from Saturday, October 17 through Friday, October 30, 2020 (includes two Saturdays and Sundays). at Town Hall, 16 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA. WEAR A MASK.
- Mondays to Fridays: 9 am to 3 pm.
- Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18 from 9 am to 1 pm.
- Saturday, October 24: 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm. (This is also the Voter Registration Deadline for November 3rd Election. Voter Registration may be done in person during these hours or online).
- Sunday, October 25: 9 am to 1 pm.
VOTE BY MAIL:
- Vote by mail application.
- Return: by mail: Town Clerk's Office, 16 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA or by dropbox: 16 Broad Street, outside Main Entrance (no postage necessary if placed in Dropbox).
- If you vote via email you can TRACK YOUR BALLOT.
- When? Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020: 7 am to 8 pm.
- Where? Nantucket High School, 10 Surfside Road. Voting booths will be set up socially distantly and school will not be in session that day. WEAR A MASK.
US Census Bureau
The US Census response deadline continues to be subject to change and is currently set for October 5th. That said, your response is still possible, so just do it, if you haven’t yet!
The United States Census Bureau counts housing units as well as people, so all full time and seasonal households on Nantucket need to be counted. You can do so online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or with the help of a 2020 Census taker. It can be done online in 13 languages, and guides are available in 59 languages. Do it for you, for your family, and for all of us on Nantucket, to make sure the island’s fair share of federal aid returns here for vital community services.
There has been a lot of confusion about the Census, made more complicated and urgent by the public health crisis. Here are some important things to know:
- There is no question on the Census form about citizenship or immigration status. No personally identifying information collected by the Census Bureau can be shared with any other government department or law enforcement agency – federal, state, or local.
- Census statistics are used to determine federal funding for our community and Congressional representation and Electoral College votes for Massachusetts for the next ten years. Some of that federal funding is likely to be directed to post-pandemic economic recovery for cities and towns.
Additionally, there have been a number of changes to the Census operational calendar, due to Covid. Most recently, under a preliminary injunction (PI) issued in Federal court on September 24th, the government cannot use the September 30 cutoff deadline, because this deadline was found to not be the product of reasoned decision-making. As such, the previous deadline (October 31) went back into effect. The judge also applied the PI to the December 31 deadline for reporting Census statistics.
Late on Monday September 28, the Census Bureau also announced that it plans to conclude self-response (online, by phone, and by mail) and field (Census taker) operations on October 5. In response, the same Federal judge ordered the government to provide records – by Tuesday afternoon – that explain the Census Bureau's reasoning for the new October 5 deadline. The court is currently reviewing the information and expects to make a determination by Friday, October 2, as to whether the government has violated the PI.
Nantucket Cottage Hospital on Flu Season
Flu shots for the entire family