Harwich reassessing, Chatham consider new beach patrol

Task Force Assessing Recommendations Require More Study

ChronicleBy William F. Galvin

HARWICH – Progress is being made on the town operations review task force recommendations, selectmen said Monday night as they began the first of their weekly meetings to discuss responses of department heads to those recommendations.

"I don’t consider no news is bad news,” Selectman Donald Howell said Monday night of charges of a lack of progress by the task force. “We’re doing things.”

Town Accountant David Ryan made a presentation before selectmen on behalf of the accounting and assessing departments in which he pointed out several changes have been made, including billing enforcement for town ambulance services that shows a 13.5 percent rate of increase.

Ryan said Treasurer/Tax Collector Dorothy Parkhurst has begun a program to aggressively pursue and manage the collection of unpaid taxes and to get owner unknown properties back on the tax rolls. In FY 2005, Ryan said, there was a 243 percent increase in those collections.

But the main focus of the evening related to two assessing policies. One related to supplemental tax assessment, more commonly referred to as the “Hopkinton Amendment.”

"The law would require assessors to calculate a bill for the addition or new dwelling that increases the value of a property more than 50 percent on a per diem rate for issuance of a certificate of occupancy requested by the homeowner and issued by the building commissioner,” Deputy Assessor David Scannell told selectmen...  Read the rest of this Chronicle story here, and comment below.

Selectmen To Revisit Lighthouse Beach Patrol Debate

by Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — A budget discussion last week rekindled debate over whether the town should add a land-based patrol to improve safety at Lighthouse Beach.

Chatham Lighthouse BeachUnder the recommendation of Harbormaster Stuart Smith, the town is seeking to add a part-time assistant harbormaster on the beach, to augment the boat-based patrol used on peak beach days. The position has been added to the fiscal 2007 operating budget at a cost of $6,480, a portion of which will be absorbed by the existing harbormaster’s budget.

"My experience tells me that the conditions on the bar and in the inlet there are treacherous enough that a second person is warranted,” Smith told selectmen last Tuesday. A part-time water-based patrol has been in place at the beach since February 2003, when selectmen instated it as a way to recover beachgoers stranded on a recurring sand spit. Smith’s original proposal was for a two-person boat-and-beach patrol, but selectmen rejected that proposal as too costly, opting for the boat patrol only.

Last summer, the boat patrol was kept particularly busy rescuing wayward beachgoers. During particular combinations of wind and tide, swimmers and waders were regularly swept away from the sand spit, battling currents too strong for even the strongest swimmers. According to figures from the harbormaster’s department, the Lighthouse Beach boat patrol rescued 48 people from the surf between July 21 and Sept. 2...Read the rest of this Chronicle story here, and comment below. Photo above shows the Chatham Lighthouse Beach duing a seal pup rescue last August.

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