Sandwich Petitioners Seek Changes To DPW, Beach Upkeep, Marina Wait List
By: Mary Stanley
Town Meeting voters will be asked to decide not one, not two, but an unprecedented six petition articles at May’s Annual Town Meeting.
These petition articles were submitted by residents, and range in focus from setting aside some of the money collected from beach parking to pay for coastal management, to increasing a new meals tax in town as a way to raise revenue for the town, to hiring private contracts to take over some of the responsibilities of the Department of Public Works.
“Once in a while, you get one or two petition articles but we have never had six,” Town Clerk Taylor D. White said.
One of the petition article calls for separating out the responsibilities of the Department of Public Works and privatizing some of the work now done by town employees. Resident Stephen Barr of Craft Road is bringing this article before voters.
“The DPW has gotten out of control. When you look at what they do, we are paying a ton of money and have not seen one single effort to save money,” Mr. Barr said.
He is suggesting that the department be broken into four entities: the transfer station, engineering, highway and parks, and tree work. According to his petition, the town would advertise for each of these parts, review the sealed bids submitted from qualified private contractors and award the operation of each part to the lowest bidders.
“The DPW allegedly maintains the roads but I’m not sure they are maintaining them to the level they should be. I suspect the town could save a ton of money by subcontracting road work out. Most of the tree work is already being subcontracted out. Do we really need a department of three engineers in a town with 22,000 people,” Mr. Barr said.
He suggested that the town could save nearly $2 million by privatizing this department.
Another petition article, also being brought forward by Mr. Barr, calls for charging an annual $25 fee to people who wish to remain on the waiting list for a boat slip at the town’s marina.
“Many other places charge a fee to remain on their waiting list. Right now, we have 1,176 names on the list for a slip at the Sandwich Marina. We could generate almost $27,000 from this fee and that money could be used to defray costs at the marina. The town is missing out on a revenue stream,” Mr. Barr said.
He added that it would also help to whittle the list down to only people who still want a slip at the marina.
“It would help clear up the list and remove people who are no longer alive and get them off of the list,” he said.
A third petition article calls for putting aside 20 percent of the revenues collected from beach stickers and parking passes at the town’s beaches and using that money to maintain the beaches. This is being submitted by Darrell W. Davis of White Cap Path.
He said putting money aside for beach maintenance is not a new concept. “The town of Dennis started doing this years ago and two weeks ago, I saw they voted to increase it to 40 percent. I’m just taking a cue from the Town of Dennis,” he said.
Mr. Davis estimates that the move would generate less than $40,000. While it is a small amount of money, he said it is a starting point. “It’s some place to start. We just can’t continue to do the same thing we have been doing. It’s a drop in the bucket but you fill a bucket one drop at a time,” he said.
Another petition article seeks to increase the tax paid on meals at local restaurants. The article was submitted by David L. Darling of Old County Road, who has been lobbying to get this passed for several years as a way to increase revenues for the town. Mr. Darling is proposing to increase the tax paid on meals served in Sandwich by three quarters of a percentage point. He estimates that the town could generate approximately $280,000 in annual revenues from the move.
Although this issue has been discussed since 2010 and was voted down at last year’s Town Meeting, Mr. Darling is hoping that voters will have a change of heart.
A fifth petition article seeks to send a letter to the state asking it to seek a constitutional amendment limiting the amount of money corporations and organizations can contribute to political campaigns. This article is being proposed by former finance committee member Louis F. Cerrone of Popple Bottom Road.
Mr. Cerrone explained that this article is part of a movement occurring across the state and the nation to overturn a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that for the first time allowed corporations, organizations, and unions to spend limitless amounts of money on campaign contributions.
“Prior to this ruling, states had the right to impose reasonable limits,” he said. Mr. Cerrone explained that this would be a non-binding resolution that would hopefully create an upswell at the state and federal levels that can’t be ignored. “Over 150 municipalities across the state have already passed this, including 13 out of the 15 towns on the Cape,” he said.
The final petition article is a non-binding public opinion advisory asking Governor Deval L. Patrick to uphold the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s mandate to shut down Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth. Mr. White could not confirm who submitted this article. According to the petition, the advisory is being requested in light of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s acknowledgment that Cape residents and visitors are in “harm’s way” in the event of a radiological accident at the nuclear plant and that the public safety of Cape and islands residents and visitors cannot be assured.
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