I have submitted to the Seabrook Board of Selectmen a breakdown of the 2019 warrant with a look at the tax impacts on 2019. There will be a more substantial analysis submitted after the election results come in. The “pre-election analysis” is below. The focus is on 2019 impacts, with a breakdown by Department. After the breakdown we give a look at what the 2019 budget would look like if all articles passed.
Seabrook has a robust Asset Management plan, with warrant article 7 designed to build upon our existing system. Our Wastewater Department has produced the informational video attached below. This article will have no impact on the tax rate as it will be converted to a grant.
The annual reports provided to the Board of Selectmen on the activity of the Water Department and the Sewer Department are attached below. These reports are compiled to examine the volumes in each department, as well as the overall financial impacts of each department on the overall municipal budget. In FY 2018 the overall level of taxpayer subsidy to both departments in combination was relatively stable, but increased in wastewater. The Board of Selectmen have adjusted water and sewer rates in FY 2019 in order to eliminate this taxpayer subsidy. Next years report should see the combined “subsidy” eliminated, or being very close to elimination. The taxpayer subsidy in 2018, on an operations only basis, was over $2 million.
The Board of Selectmen welcomed two new police officers, John DiFrancesco and Anthony Robinson, at their February 4, 2019 meeting. The officers were sworn in by Clerk Cheryl Bowen, with the Board offering congratulations, and support for our public safety personnel. Congratulations to officers DiFrancesco and Robinson.
The Seabrook Board of Selectmen have accepted the final report of the consultant hired to analyze, and recommend changes to, the water and sewer rates in Seabrook. That report is attached below.
Water and sewer rates in Seabrook have not been raised since 2012, with the result being, in 2017, an operational deficit in those two departments of over $2 million. What that translates to is a taxpayer “subsidy” to water and sewer ratepayers, in 2017, of over 8% of the total municipal budget. That number, as large as it is, does not account for water and sewer capital spending, only the budgeted operational expenses. Year to year studies of those departments has shown that the subsidy continues to grow, with stagnant revenues and increasing expenses. The water and sewer financial reports, issued to the Board of Selectmen annually, show this number consuming an ever larger portion of the municipal budget, squeezing other spending out, and restricting the ability of the Town to make necessary investments in water and sewer capital. (The 2017 reports for each department are attached)
The Seabrook Board of Selectmen have examined the attached consultants report and opted to close this operational deficit in water and sewer in FY2019. The new water and sewer rates, starting in January 2019, are attached below. As part of this study the Board also directed that the “service rates” for each department be studied, and they have created a new service fee schedule for each department, attached below.
The Board of Selectmen, as well as the Budget Committee, have directed management to recommend measures that will reduce pressure on the tax burden in Seabrook, and this is a major step in that direction. Every dollar raised in local revenues is one less dollar that needs to be raised through the property tax. This new rate schedule will raise an additional $2 million in local revenues in 2019, eliminating the subsidy from Seabrook’s taxpayers to the ratepayers, reducing that burden on the property tax.
On Friday December 7, 2018 Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan came to the Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative in Seabrook to announce that federal funding had been secured for the dredging of Seabrook/Hampton Harbor. This project will be undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who had received preliminary funding and have been in the engineering phase of the project. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen were on hand, as well as Seabrook Harbor Master Mike Pike, Police Chief Brett Walker, Fire Chief William Edwards, Emergency Manager Joseph Titone, as well as Ed O’Donnell and Coral Siligato from the Army Corps. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen (Chair Ella Brown, Vice Chair Aboul Khan, and Board Clerk Theresa Kyle) have made support of this project a top priority, setting a Town policy of full support for the funding, as well as instructing management to work closely with the Army Corps on the logistics of the project. The Army Corps have been a tremendous partner on this project, moving as quickly as they can to get the work started. This project is vital to the commercial fishing industry on the seacoast, as well as other commercial boating and charter operations. Thank you to Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan for all of their hard work on the funding. Their involvement and hard work have brought this funding forward, and we are deeply appreciative for their efforts.
Ann Robinson, the Seabrook Librarian, has announced her retirement after 11 years of service to Seabrook. Ann was a terrific steward of the Seabrook Library, bringing strong leadership and improvements for the Library across the board. The Seabrook Library Trustees held a reception for Ann on December 5, and this video is from that reception. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen were on hand to wish Ann well. Best wishes, and much gratitude, to Ann for a job well done.
The Seabrook 2019 Capital Improvement Plan, with some additional information, has been filed with the Planning Board as well as with the Seabrook Board of Selectmen. I have created a CIP Plan supplemental document with a narrative that includes the Seabrook debt schedules as well as a look at the progress of the approved 2018 warrant articles. That is the top document. The actual CIP book, in traditional Seabrook format, is the second document. I have also provided a review of the six year history of capital spending in Seabrook, showing where voter approved spending has been directed, by category, and by department. The fourth document provided is the 2019 departmental requests, offered in what we are calling “cut sheet” form, allowing for another way of looking at the 2019 capital requests by department. We will further refine this document, which is simply another way of looking at our departmental requests for 2019. Thanks to Shaylia Marquis for all of her work on this document, as well as to our department heads for all of their work.
The Friends of Seabrook Community and the Seabrook Board of Selectmen came together for the first annual “Trunk or Treat” at Veterans Park in Seabrook. It was a great event, with lots of participation by the community. The Board of Selectmen and FOSC, as well as the American Legion Walton Post 70, joined together to cut the ribbon on the new additions to the Park, including the brand new full basketball court. (Pictured below) Many thanks to the DPW, who worked very hard on the basketball court. Thanks to FOSC for all of their hard work, and the voters for their generosity. A big thank you to the Board of Selectmen, who have been big supporters of the park addition.
What a great Halloween event Friday evening, hosted by the Seabrook Recreation Department and the Seabrook Adventure Zone. Very big thanks to Recreation Director Katie Duffey and Forrest Carter Jr and all the staff for their hard work! A very great, and scary, haunted house, and lots of other fun for many, many kids. Promoting after school activities for our children has to be one of the most important things we do, and we are grateful for the work at our Recreation Department, and through the Seabrook Adventure Zone.