Pursuant to and in accordance with Section 5-3 of the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter, the budget message is mandated to be provided along with the proposed county budget for each fiscal year. More specifically, said provision of the County Charter reads as follows:
"Section 5 – 3. Budget Message. The budget message submitted by the board of regional commissioners shall explain the proposed budget for all Cape Cod regional government agencies, both in fiscal terms and in terms of work programs. The budget message shall outline proposed financial policies of the Cape Cod regional government for the ensuing fiscal year; describe important features of the proposed budget; indicate any major variations form the current budget in financial policies, expenditures and revenues, together with the reasons for such changes; summarize the Cape Cod regional government’s debt position; and include such additional information as the board of regional commissioners deems desirable."
For reasons of transparency, accountability and protection of the public interest, it is very important to highlight the portion of said Charter provision which states, "summarize the Cape Cod regional government’s debt position" because the official budget message which was formally voted upon and approved by the Barnstable County Commissioners glaringly violates the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter since it does NOT "summarize the Cape Cod regional government’s debt position."
This observation is made even more significant when it is discovered that Barnstable County is currently obligated over the long term for Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust loans, now known as the “Clean Water Trust”. As of June 30, 2016, the outstanding balance on those bonds was $23,578,945. The annual cost of the debt is $1,464,211 and the final debt payment on existing debt is scheduled for January 2035. These debt obligations are paid from the Septic Loan Fund and do not burden the budget. Moreover the County also has a temporary loan out for County projects in the amount of $2,207,100.00. In total, this translates into tens of millions of dollars of debt which is carelessly missing from the budget message even though it is required by the County Charter.
By failing to provide the requisite information and adhering to the requirements mandated by the County Charter relative to the Budget Message, the current County Commissioners do a severe disservice to their constituents, the voters, taxpayers and residents of Cape Cod. It is lack of transparency and accountability like this that public advocates, government watchdogs and patriots need to be constantly vigilant of.
On Tuesday, November 8th, Cape Cod voters sought fit to elect me as their new Barnstable County Commissioner. It is my firm belief that my platform of limited government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, transparency and accountability, as well as protection of the public interest were the overriding reasons why this this happened. I will continue to act in this capacity before, during after I am officially sworn into office on January 3, 2017.
RONALD BEATY, Barnstable County Commissioner-Elect
245 Parker Road, West Barnstable, MA 02668