FALMOUTH — Two of the goals of the new fiscal year budget were to nearly double the pay for town councilors, who now receive $40 per meeting, and provide an additional stipend for the council chair.

But it turns out a Town Charter provision doesn’t allow the council to receive an increase in compensation during the same fiscal year as their vote. So councilors will have to wait until July 1, 2020, to get their proposed increases.

As a compromise, however, Town Manager Nathan Poore said councilors could voluntarily submit expense reports for up to $75 a month until the new compensation package begins. He said councilors could be reimbursed for items including mileage, or cell phone and Internet costs related to conducting town business.

The council agreed to that proposal in principal Monday, July 22, and is expected to pass a resolution to that effect when it next meets on Aug. 12.

Councilor Caleb Hemphill said an increase in pay was “a long time in coming,” and the ability to submit expense reports is a “good solution.”

Poore said it’s been at least a decade since councilors received an increase and that the proposal, for $75 per meeting, plus an additional $1,000 a year for the chair, puts the town in the middle of the pack among similar communities.

Councilor Jay Trickett, who raised the question about a conflict with the Town Charter, said Monday that while he’s not a proponent of spending town funds just because they’re available, he also doesn’t want to discourage anyone from running or serving on the town’s elected boards because of the costs associated with the service.

In other business Monday, the council received a presentation on a full property revaluation that would take place in 2020 and be implemented in time for the fiscal year 2021 tax commitment.

Poore said the goal of a revaluation is to ensure the town is levying “fair and equitable property taxes,” and that “the tax burden is fairly shared.” He said because Falmouth has been doing incremental revaluations over the years, the hope is that the full revaluation will not create sticker shock for property owners.

Poore said the last revaluation was done in 2009, and data on property sales prices and the town’s overall quality rating “signal that it is time to perform a revaluation.”

He said the town would hire a mass appraisal firm to conduct the revaluation, with bid documents to go out in September. The goal is to begin field inspections by April 2020, with an expected completion of August 2021.

Also on Monday, the council approved the creation of a new Community Wellness Committee that would take the place of the current Human Services Committee. The panel will consist of 11 members.

It’s duties include determining best strategies and practices to promote wellness for individuals, families, and the community as a whole, which could include creating a wellness resource guide along with an annual wellness fair, and making recommendations on and implementing the town’s annual dispensing of funds to social service agencies.

Councilors also agreed to expand membership of the Economic Improvement Committee from seven to nine.


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