Letter: County budget "walks away from the Cape's biggest issue"

By Sheila Lyons, Wellfleet (former County Commissioner)

I am writing in response to the letter by County Commissioner Ron Beaty calling for the Assembly of Delegates to stop playing politics with “the most critical issue facing Cape Cod at this time, the fragile state of our regional water quality” and to “expeditiously pass the pragmatic and fiscally responsible County budget before them”. The Commissioner’s budget is neither pragmatic nor responsible. Rather his assertions are a continuation of the disinformation and distortions that have spewed from Mr. Beaty on the pages of Cape Cod newspapers and elsewhere for years.

The fact is, Commissioner and Chairman Leo Cakounes and Commissioner Beaty have developed a misguided budget that walks away from the Cape’s biggest issue, wastewater management. The Commissioners have proposed the elimination of the entire budget of Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative and reduce Cape Cod Commission funding, effectively ending the County ‘s effective effort to lower the cost of this very expensive regional problem. Instead of directing funds to continue this important work, the Commissioners stash this money into a discretionary (slush) fund that the Commissioners alone can hand out like candy to whoever they want.

The Commissioners actions not only lack common sense but will sever the partnership and trust the County and the Cape Cod Commission has fostered with the Commonwealth, the federal government, the local municipalities, and the courts. Defunding this collaboration threatens a court settlement that may result in a reopening the Conservation Law Foundation’s lawsuit against Barnstable County regarding our water quality issues that would drastically increase taxpayer expenses.

While none are as egregious and misguided as this one, there are other decisions made in this budget that clearly go against the professional recommendations of the administrative staff. It now seems that the current board of commissioners do not understand their role and lack a sense of what policies are really important to the region.

The budget is now before the Assembly of Delegates for consideration. If you care about the County spending your money intelligently to protect the environment, and the economy on which it is based, learn who your town delegate is and urge them to ignore the noise and reject the Commissioner’s budget. It is time for citizens to act and be heard.

Sheila Lyons, Wellfleet

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