Residents passed unanimously a $60 million operating budget and $2 million capital budget at Town Meeting at Mashpee High School on Monday, June 15.
The 265 Mashpee voters also passed articles to remove a pile of solid waste on Echo Road, dredge parts of Waquoit Bay and lease solar installations at the town’s schools.
The operating budget approved for Fiscal Year 2021 included a $22 million school budget, $4.8 million for the department of public works, $4.8 million for the police department and $4.2 million for the fire department.
“With the pandemic going on, what happens if their budget has to increase because of staff because of their saying possibly only 10 students to a classroom?” resident Kathleen Lynch asked about the school budget.
“We do have a lot of unknowns going into next year,” said Patricia M. DeBoer, the superintendent of schools, adding that the school budget “represents a level service budget” and that federal funding will be available to the town for some school operations.
Andrew R. Gottlieb, chairman of the board of selectmen, said any needed adjustments to the school budget would be discussed with the school committee and, if changes to the omnibus budget are necessary, the town will make such changes “at whatever time would be appropriate.”
The $2 million capital budget includes drainage repair at the transfer station, purchase of four electric cars and charging stations for town operations, various school improvements and replacement of multiple department of public works vehicles.
A unanimous vote approved $150,000 for nuisance remediation of a pile of solid waste at the Cabral’s Container Service property on Echo Road.
Resident Sharon DeFrancesco asked about the “likelihood of us recouping that money upon sale of that property if it does ever in fact change hands.”
Town Counsel Patrick J. Costello said there is a “very stringent lien process” that “allows the town to place a lien on the property for all costs incurred for the remediation.”
“That lien will survive any transfer of the property, any mortgaging of the property. It’s a priority lien, so I would say there is a very good chance of the town collecting it,” he said.
The owner of the property, Manuel Cabral, received an order to cease and desist and $23,500 in fines in February over the 1,300-cubic-yard pile of solid waste. Removal of the solid waste is expected to be less than the requested $150,000.
Town Meeting also approved $144,000 from the community preservation fund to dredge sections of Waquoit Bay.
The dredging project aims to improve recreational activity and navigation in the bay at all tides and to improve tidal flushing of the bay. The funds would provide for the engineering and permitting required to dredge the Little River and Great River channels, and Hamblin and Jehu ponds.
The dredging in Waquoit Bay is in addition to the dredging of 5,000 cubic yards done annually at the inlet to Popponesset Bay—a project Town Meeting also approved.
A unanimous vote also authorized the board of selectmen to enter into long-term leases to install solar energy systems at the Kenneth C. Coombs School, Quashnet School and Mashpee Middle-High School.
The proposed solar canopies above the parking lots at each school and installation of solar panels on the roofs of the Quashnet and Coombs schools could save the town as much as $700,000 per year.