Revenue Committee Prepares Next Steps

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Municipal Finance

Bob Renn, left, and Ken Rowell of the revenue committee reviewed documents at their May 31 meeting. They were preparing a presentation to the selectmen and finance committee scheduled for June 21. ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS Facing an expiration date of June 30, the revenue committee has been meeting in recent weeks to shape its June 21 report to the board of selectmen and perhaps ask for more time to advance its ideas to augment the town's coffers.

The committee's signal success to date was Town Meeting's agreement in May to accept state law that allows the creation of enterprise funds. Communities use such funds to support designated activities through user charges and fees. But voters said no to the follow-on step of allowing annual votes on such funds outside of the general operating budget. Town Meeting also turned down the committee's call for an annual review of all user fees, permits and licenses with the eventual goal of having them cover all direct and indirect costs.

On May 31, the committee worked on its report on augmenting grant funding for the town. Every department, said chair John Laurino, should have an individual whose responsibilities include checking the availability of grants. “The board of selectmen needs to set policies,” he said, “and not manage this ad hoc.” He said the annual review of the town administrator should look at how this goal has been addressed.

Vice chair Bob Renn proposed a policy “that requires the town administrator to exercise a leadership role in planning and pursuing grants.” He said the town's fire and police chiefs should start incorporating attempts to secure grants in their quarterly reports to selectmen.

Leading up to their actual creation, “shadow” versions of enterprise funds could be created so the town could “better understand revenue, expenses, and current general fund subsidies” for activities such as the beaches and transfer station, Renn said.

The revenue board appears committed to identifying the true costs of town services, including indirect costs. Those data would inform a subsequent discussion of how to pay for them.

Members objected to characterizations of their proposal to move toward full recovery of all costs for services. “There might be some situations where we never get to 100 percent,” said Renn. “We want to move in that direction, (but) it would be left to the board of selectmen.”