Water Quality Funding Plan Being Presented to Sandwich Community


SANDWICH – Sandwich Town Manager Bud Dunham is discussing an innovative plan to community groups around town to secure funding for water quality issues.

The proposal would add a 2 percent surcharge on property taxes for the Water Infrastructure Investment Fund.

The fund would only be used to pay for projects related to wasterwater, drinking water or stormwater issues. It would be used to clean ponds and coastal waters, along with the extension of water lines throughout town and provide better stormwater draingage.

Dunham says the proposal is far cheaper for taxpayers than to tackle projects individually.

“It would add up. We would have to ask constantly and we wouldn’t be able to be flexible and able to react as quickly as this would allow us to do,” Dunham said.

The fund would grow and earn interest similar to the Community Preservation Act surcharge.

To help offset the added burden to taxpayers the proposal would also decrease the property tax surcharge for the CPA fund from 3 percent to 2 percent.

For the average home in Sandwich, which has a value just under $400,000, it would cost just under $60 per year.

“Over the next 25 years that cost increases by less than $3 per year,” Dunham said.

The proposal is possible due to a law passed by legislators in the state several years ago that allows municipalities to assess a property tax surcharge up to 3 percent to raise funds for wastewater, drinking water or stormwater purposes.

The town completed its Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan after a decade of work and it estimates that water quality improvement projects would require $86 million over the next two or three decades.

About two thirds of the land area in Sandwich flows to the north and the northern embayments aren’t impacted as heavily as the southern embayments on the Cape.

“We are fortunate in the sense that the total amount of money that we have to come up with over the years based on our projections is quite a bit less than most of the other towns [on the cape],” Dunham said.

The town also has a responsibility for the water that runs to the south into Falmouth, Mashpee and Barnstable.

“We are working with those three towns to accept our share of the responsibility on the embayments that are in the south that in much worse condition,” Dunham said.

Dunham said the 2 percent surcharge proposal has been explored over the last year and a half.

Selectmen recently voted unanimously at two meetings to support both the WIIF surcharge and the decrease of the CPA surcharge.

Dunham said the plan gives town officials a readily available funding source to address water problems.

“Every town on the Cape knows all the things we are doing now – we are not going to know if they work for another 20-plus years and if they haven’t worked we are going to have to do other things,” he said. “I think we see this as a really smart way to sort of pay it forward to the people of Sandwich several decades down the road.”

The proposal would require a two-step process to be approved by voters.

The change would require a town meeting vote for both the new WIIF surcharge and the reduction of the CPA surcharge. The two surcharge changes would then also need approval at town election.

“We are trying to roll out the public education,” Dunham said.

Dunham said a few committees have been extremely supportive of the plan because they understand the severity of the wastewater and groundwater problem.

“I think they know the numbers and they’ve looked at what we are going to be required to do,” he said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

About CapeCod.com NewsCenter

The award-winning CapeCod.com NewsCenter provides the Cape Cod community with a constant, credible source for local news. We are on the job seven days a week.

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy