The City Council earlier tonight passed spending $25,000 from the Harbormaster enterprise account to match a state DCR grant for erosion control on the Newburyport part of the Plum Island beach - which, by the way is private property.
This caused a certain boat-owning, fee-paying Councillor to later say, "What the ...?"
Well, that might not be exactly what he said, but that's essentially what he meant.
The Council did NOT approve a $15,000 transfer from the free cash account to cover design and permitting costs for said erosion control measures. That money would be taxpayer money, as opposed to the Harbormaster money, which is paid mostly by ... a certain segment of taxpayers. But it's not a tax; it's a fee.
It's what boat owners pay for the privilege of keeping a boat in Newburyport.
The city has 3 enterprise accounts - the Harbormaster and the water and sewer departments. They are self-sufficient in that they operate only on fees they collect. And I guess that's only fair, since as a non-property owner, I don't pay property taxes but I do use the toilet in this cottage, take showers and .... buy bottled water.
And as Councillor Brian Derrivan noted, he has a homeowner in his ward (5) that, due to a mistake by the city regarding an improperly maintained drainage system, has apparently cost the homeowner a chunk of change ($55,000) to mitigate water flowing into the basement of their home.
"Where is my $55,000 for my constituent because of our mistake?" he asked right before voting "no" to put the money into the beach (along with Cronin and Jones).
If you're at all interested, go into the Planning Dept. and look at the map of the Newburyport beach that shows which part is owned by DCR and which is owned by Newburyport. There's just that one little portion, right before the Newbury town line, that is not owned by DCR - you know, where the city let people build houses on the dune and where there is now erosion.
The Council also authorized a letter to be sent to U.S. senators John Kerry and Scott Brown and U.S. Rep. John Tierney urging them to "petition the Army Corps of Engineers to set as a priority the expeditious repair of the Newburyport Harbor jetties in order to save the barrier island and its rich history and to set as a priority the lives and safety of people enjoying our coastal waterways and beaches."
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