Budget crunching in Oak Bluffs may lead to confusion for voters
Oak Bluffs town officials moved this week to clarify budget numbers that may be confusing when presented to voters at the April 8 annual town meeting.
In the column "FY2008 actual budget," (the current fiscal year) voters will see a grand total of $18,301,745. The grand total for the proposed FY2009 budget reads $22,471,346, representing a year-to-year increase of more than 20 percent, as reported in The Times on March 27.
Finance director Paul Manzi said the figures are accurate but may be misleading, because the FY08 column did not include the town's share of educating students at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). Last year, Oak Bluffs voters approved a separate spending article authorizing $2,597,762 to pay the assessment for MVRHS. Approving the assessment in an article outside the operating budget was an unusual procedure arising from the town's controversial split with other Island towns over the regional assessment formula.
According to Mr. Manzi, when the school assessment for fiscal 2008 is added to the operating budget figure presented to voters for that year, the town's real appropriation for FY08 totals $20,899,507. Using that figure, he says, the year-to-year budget increase is 7.5 percent.
And there's an additional complication. In comparing the high school assessment increase, the school costs are split. A town meeting warrant article asks voters to approve the operating budget, including $2,941,657 for the high school assessment and capital outlay. The town is also seeking a Proposition 2.5 override for Martha's Vineyard Regional High School costs on a separate warrant article requesting $157,294. Adding those figures together brings the total share of educating Oak Bluffs students at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School to $3,098,951.