Town Manager's Report

Interim Town Manager’s Report delivered at the June 10, 2024 Town Council Meeting

The Town Council, the SBAC and the Cape Courier have received many letters and emails critical that the Town has not done any capital planning or provided for stewardship of municipal infrastructure.  Like many issues in the community, this dialogue is driven by local social media sites that have no fact checking and serve as an echo chamber for distortion.

On June 5th, while looking for another document, I came across the “Cape Elizabeth Capital Stewardship Plan for 2017-2026.”  This document, submitted to the Town Council in September 2015,  was a successor to annual five year capital improvement plans that had been prepared every year since 1977. It provided for $17,029,020 in spending funded from bonds, the annual budget and three special fund budgets. The Town has also had long range roadway and drainage capital plans for decades. I found on our municipal website the FY 2017-2021 Roadway and Drainage Plan .  A look at the Town Manager Matt Sturgis’ s proposed budget dated March 1, 2024 contains 30 pages under the heading of “FY 2024-FY 2034 Capital Investment Plan.”  Every municipal budget since the early 1970’s has contained a capital investment plan.  The 1972 Comprehensive Plan, successor Comprehensive Plans, the sewer infrastructure plans from the 70’s and 80’s, Fort Williams studies, recreational facility assessments, a greenbelt plan and countless other long term plans have been prepared and mostly implemented. Every Town Council since 1967, six Town Managers, department heads, staff and consultants and  countless volunteer citizen committees have spent thousands and thousands of hours planning and implementing long term capital infrastructure needs of the Town. 

Most, but not all, of the recommendations in the dozens of prior plans have been implemented.  Some were not done because of changes in and new priorities by the elected officials, citizen opposition and lack of funding. Funding challenges have been dealt with through a tax increment finance district in the town center, a town infrastructure fund that captures income from permit fees, a Fort Williams Park capital fund utilizing fees generated within the park,  citizen contributions  for the library, playgrounds and Hannaford Field, sewer user fees, Portland Head Light Gift shop sales,  bond issues and funds from each year’s  municipal and special funds budgets. 

As a result of the vision of many, financial sacrifices by citizens, grants, innovative financing and solid planning, the town enjoys a new library, a safer Recycling Center, extensive preservation of Town open space, an amazing greenbelt and extensive array of outdoor athletic infrastructure,  improved roads, bike paths and pedestrian improvements,   a world class park,  equipment to maintain our roads and parks, new fire trucks, a new rescue vehicle, regular replacements of police cruisers, an updated street lighting system, and so much more.  We provide stewardship for the iconic Portland Head Light, the historically significant Spurwink Church, all of our municipal buildings and for underground infrastructure that no sees but is cared for.  

As the community addresses the school infrastructure, we cannot ignore the aging Town Hall and community center, the condition of Shore Road near South Portland, the Town Center intersection   the work needed to address climate change,  technology upgrades, equipment needs, old sewers and the buildings which were built or upgraded 25 years ago. We must also continue to evaluate and update our capital needs each year. All of this will need to be addressed in a way that does not overburden our taxpayers while providing needed stewardship. 





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