A Pamet Divorce?
The island has asked its State Senator to file a bill in the Maine Legislature to allow them to secede from Waldo County, and join itself to Knox County to the south. The tiny island pays almost 11% of the entire county budget because of the enormous value of its oceanfront property, yet it receives far less in county services. If it were to join with the larger and more industrial Knox County, while the value of the property would remain the same, its assessment would be far lower, because of the broader commercial tax base which includes Rockland and Camden. Lincolnville is horrified, as its county assessment would jump over $72,000 in the first year (this is Maine money – really a large sum up there). Lincolnville is pushing for a county-wide vote, but Islesboro is having none of it, as they would be handily defeated, even though they voted 101 to 12 to pursue this at their town meeting. One councilor said, “We have to have some principles. What right do we have to hold the people of Islesboro in financial servitude in order to subsidize Waldo County?”
What does this have to do with Cape Cod? Has the time come for the nine towns east of the Bass River to create Pamet County?
East of the Bass River, the needs of Barnstable County change radically. There is much less development, much less commercial enterprise. Because of the impact of the National Seashore, and shrewd Land Band purchases (unlike sister towns in the county who have used their land bank money to buy abandoned gas stations at traffic circles and airports instead of bona fide open space), much of the remaining undeveloped land is under conservation protection. There are towns down Cape that have public streets that are still dirt roads, and towns with no town water system It is much more rural, much more residential and agricultural, and much ignored by the current Barnstable County. Truro receives less than a 1% vote in the weighted Assembly of Delegates, while Barnstable and Yarmouth can virtually outvote the other thirteen towns on every issue.
So why not secede, and create Pamet County?
The outer Cape already has its own Courthouse. A Pamet Registry of Deeds can be established, which can help subsidize down Cape expenses. It has a commercial hub of Orleans and Chatham, as well as Provincetown. It is working on developing a transportation system to operate east of the Orleans rotary. Pamet is a maritime county, with fishing as a major industry, not a tourist occupation.
The disease wall at the Canal has been breached on the upper Cape, and rabies is spreading. There is still time to make a new line of demarcation at the Bass River and have Pamet County protect the lower Cape. Barnstable has its healthcare services in Hyannis, at the hospital and at the clinics nearby. The Lower/Outer Cape Outreach is attempting to create its own network of healthcare providers – how much easier it would be to do it as a county!
The greatest pending expense in Barnstable County is the potential county-wide wastewater authority. Just about every scenario we’ve heard about the fact that this is a boat we are all in together ignores one fact – the Sagamore lens we’ve heard so much about over the years, the underground aquifer that Barnstable water comes from, ends at the Bass River. Beyond that is the Monomoy, Pamet and Pilgrim lenses under Pamet County – without the intense development in Barnstable County, two airports leaking jet fuel, and so on that we ‘all’ have to clean up. Pamet County can develop much less expensive solutions if it isn’t asked to subsidize Barnstable County.
And of course, the Cape Cod Commission, the Assembly of Delegates, and the various layers of porcine government that Barnstable County has managed to lather on would all be left behind, too. And we could always rent the dredge! Like Islesboro, residents of the lower and outer Cape should consider shrugging off a bad relationship, and creating a new destiny for themselves.