Orléans property taxes will increase for FY23
There is good news on the tax front.
A tax increase is not exactly good news, but the budget outlook in Orléans looks better than it did a few months ago.
City Administrator John Kelly told the board Feb. 2 that the concern in October was that Orleans was considering a 7.2% property tax increase for FY23 and a rate of $7.59 per thousand valuation, an increase of 5.3%. The fiscal year begins July 1, 202. He noted that this was primarily due to voter-approved Proposition 2-1/2 debt exclusions for various municipal projects. The city will have $262,000 of money available in May to spend on one-time expenses, but not on the operating budget.
However, Orléans asked city departments to limit increases to 3.5% and schools were asked to keep the budget increase to 3.5% or less.
With that in mind, the latest FY23 budget contains a property tax increase of 5.5% – $1,895,000 citywide – not 7.2% – and the rate increase would be 3.5% instead of 5.3% or an increase of 25 cents per thousand. .
One reason for the change is that total non-property tax revenue is 26.3%, down from 25.2% last year.
In terms of expenses, Orleans’ non-school expenses are up 3.4%, just under the cap of $725,000. School budgets are not yet finalized but Kelly is still hoping for a 3.5% increase. He noted that Orleans’ share of Nauset registrations was up, which could push up the regional valuation.
There are new expenses and other expenses that have increased, such as legal fees that have increased by $14,363 and $26,000 to send two firefighters to the Fire Academy in Stow. There are various maintenance increases such as $16,000 to the police department.
One of the biggest hits is the county’s assessment for retirement costs, which rose by $113,445, an increase of 5.1%. Property insurance also increased by $77,877 with new municipal buildings coming into play.
Group health insurance for city employees increased by $84,800, an increase of 3%, or $52,000 less than planned.
The downtown sewer is expected to be online by September and expected to be operational by March 1, 2023. Funding for the first six months (September through March) is within the Enterprise Fund operating budget sewer and the first full year of the contract with Suez (the operator) will be funded by an article at the Town Meeting. For this first year, the hope is that all operating costs will be covered by tax revenue from short-term rentals and motel hotels. After that, users will pay. They will have one year to connect from the day of the notice.
Future capital projects
In addition to reviewing FY23, Kelly took a look back at five years of capital projects. While this forecast includes many small expenses, it also covers large items scheduled for the future.
The largest item in the plan is $26,163,500 for Permeable Reactive Barriers as part of the Wastewater Management Plan. The barriers, built primarily in south Orleans, would intercept nitrogen in groundwater en route to Pleasant Bay.
Another big future project is the possible expansion of sewers in East Orleans (nearly $30 million). Kelly said the city will wait until the town hall in May to decide which future phases to fund. However, it is possible that construction of the Meetinghouse Pond (East Orleans) phase could begin in the summer of 2023 if the schedule is respected.
Other future capital projects include $4,975,000 for Rock Harbor Bulkhead (planned for FY24) and $1,650,000 for Town Cove Bulkhead (next to Goose Hummock Shop), 1 million for maintenance dredging in Rock Harbor and $3 million for dredging in the Nauset Estuary. . This latest project has been on hold since Eastham withdrew its support, but for now it remains on the books. The city plans to return to dredging only in Orleans.
The city plans to spend $1 million to renovate housing for seasonal employees (primarily lifeguards) on the Gavigan property. Orleans is spending nearly $5 million on the Nauset Beach retreat, but conversion to a modular building that can easily be moved if erosion occurs is underway for FY25 at $1.6 million).
Another potential project is a new fire station possibly by FY25 if voters approve it. There is no estimate for this yet.
Vehicle replacements over the five years could cost $3.6 million. Orléans Elementary School will need $410,000 to replace sinks in classrooms and bathrooms. There are many small amounts for water service technology, maintenance and works that are covered by water charges.