Port Communities Relieved of Liability For SSA Deficits

NANTUCKET – An amendment has been added to the final version of the supplemental budget bill that passed recently addressing the financial viability of the Steamship Authority.  

The legislation removes liability from the port communities for any revenue shortfalls for the Steamship Authority incurred from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Residents of our district are already navigating financial uncertainty as a result of the pandemic and cannot afford to take on the Steamship Authority’s deficits,” said Representative Dylan Fernandes (D-Woods Hole), one of the amendment’s proponents alongside Cape & Islands State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro).

The authority has not run a deficit requiring port community financial support in nearly six decades. However, due to the pandemic, it expects an operating deficit of nearly $22 million this year.

Existing legislation stated that if the SSA were to operate at a deficit, the state treasurer covers the shortfalls and has the ability to recoup the cost from the port town communities.

Through the assessment, Dukes County and Nantucket would be responsible for paying 35 percent of the deficit and the towns of Barnstable, New Bedford, and Falmouth would be liable for 10 percent each.

The legislation enacted recently will exempt these port communities from any financial responsibility for deficits accrued in 2020.

“Too often, island communities are left behind when it comes to our fair share of resources – fortunately that’s not the case when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cyr.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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