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.
The Pease Development Authority Division of Ports and Harbors (Port Authority) is reaching out to all mooring holders and Pier users in the Hampton and Seabrook Harbors.
Arrangements have been made for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to hold an informational meeting with the users of Hampton and Seabrook Harbors to discuss the upcoming rehabilitation or replacement of the Hampton Harbor Bridge, also known as the Neil R. Underwood Bridge (NH DOT Bridge No. 235/025), which carries NH 1A over the inlet to Hampton Harbor and Seabrook Harbor.
The meeting is scheduled for October 25th at 4:00 p.m. at the Seabrook Beach Village District Building, 210 Ocean Blvd., Seabrook NH 03874.
For further meeting details please see the attached notice.
The Seabrook Board of Selectmen have instructed me to deliver a preliminary report on the options available to the Board relative to increasing safety measures at Seabrook Beach. That report, attached below, will be delivered at today’s meeting, along with the draft of a potential warrant article.
The Seabrook-Hampton Dredge project, which has had some preliminary engineering work done by the U.S. Army Corps, has received great news from Senators Shaheen and Hassan. The bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 has passed both houses of Congress, and will now await the signature of the President. Terrific news for the region, and for the fishing industry on the seacoast. Thank you to the N.H. Legislative delegation, and to Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan for their tireless work in support of this project. Below is the joint statement from Senators Shaheen and Hassan.
Shaheen & Hassan Provisions to Address Mitigation Efforts at Hampton-Seabrook & Portsmouth Harbors Head to President’s Desk as Part of Water Infrastructure Bill
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) issued the following statements after the bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 passed the Senate 99-1. The biennial legislation authorizes water infrastructure projects around the country, and Shaheen and Hassan helped secure approval of mitigation efforts at Hampton-Seabrook and Portsmouth Harbors. The legislation will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law, having passed both chambers.
“The shoaling of Hampton-Seabrook Harbor is so extreme that it has started to threaten the welfare of our fishermen and the sustainability of our Seacoast economy. As it has become increasingly more difficult for vessels to navigate the harbor, public safety and accessibility to and from the open water have become serious concerns – that’s why I’ve repeatedly fought to push forward on emergency dredging,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad to share that this legislation prioritizes emergency dredging for Hampton-Seabrook Harbor, as well as widening the uppermost turning basin on the Piscataqua River to address similar navigation safety issues. I urge the President to act quickly and sign this bill into law so efforts can move forward to deliver much-needed relief to New Hampshire’s coastal community.”
“Funding for mitigation efforts at Hampton-Seabrook and Portsmouth Harbors will help ensure the safety and vitality of our Seacoast,” said Hassan. “If fisherman cannot get their boats out to the open water, our coastal communities and small businesses will suffer, which could create a ripple effect throughout our state. I am pleased that the measures Senator Shaheen and I pushed for were included in the passage of this bipartisan bill and I am eager to see it become law.”
Addressing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) leadership earlier this year, Shaheen and Hassan requested the Committee support emergency dredging at Hampton-Seabrook Harbor and the Portsmouth Harbor & Piscataqua River Navigation Improvement Project. Shaheen and Hassan’s letter can be read here.
The final America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes the language secured by Shaheen and Hassan that would permit emergency dredging for Hampton-Seabrook Harbor. Significant shoaling at Hampton-Seabrook has caused sand to pile high enough to prevent boats from exiting and entering the harbor at low tides. For Portsmouth Harbor, the current 800-foot width of the turning basin on the Piscataqua River is a safety concern for large cargo ships. Their provision will permit the basin to be widened by 400 feet, which will allow for broader use of area ports, improve navigational safety and provide an economic boost for New Hampshire and the region. In addition to Congressional approval, these mitigation efforts would need to be included in the Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corps) work plan.
Additionally, Senator Shaheen successfully added language to the final bill to require the Corps to adhere to existing law requiring the regular release of a project report detailing all authorized Corps projects around the nation. Shaheen’s reporting requirement compels the Corps to issue the annual Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Report to improve transparency so that Congress and the public are aware of all ongoing projects, including the status, funding levels and other relevant information on all Corps infrastructure priorities.
Senators Shaheen and Hassan have been fierce advocates on behalf of New Hampshire fishermen and coastal communities in Hampton and Portsmouth. In September, the New Hampshire delegation called on the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James to include emergency dredging for Hampton-Seabrook Harbor in the OMB and the Corps’ fiscal year 2019 work plan. The New Hampshire delegation has repeatedly called for the Corps to dredge Hampton-Seabrook Harbor. Shaheen toured Hampton-Seabrook Harbor in the spring and released an exclusive video showing how badly the shoaling is occurring in the harbor, underscoring the need for federal assistance to perform emergency dredging.