County budget rises little, but towns pay more

Dukes County commissioners voted to recommend to the county advisory board a $1.84 million budget for fiscal year 2011 that egins on July 1.The budget reflects a further shift of costs to the six Island towns and shifts more of the cost of health care benefits to county employees. The employees will receive pay adjustments to offset the added cost of health benefits.

The county advisory board, which includes one selectman from each town, must still review the budget, schedule a public hearing, and approve the budget before it is sent to the state’s County Finance Review Board for final approval. The public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The draft budget projects a $13,975 surplus, and represents a year-to-year increase of less than one percent. The county projects revenue will fall by $17,077, and expenses will increase by $15,676.

Assessments to the six Island towns plus Gosnold will increase $20,718, to $849,419, an increase of 2.5 percent. Edgartown shoulders the largest portion of the burden, $305,424, representing 36 percent of the total for the six towns on Martha’s Vineyard.

Voting in favor, at their regular meeting on Wednesday, June 16. were Carlene Gatting of Edgartown, Lenny Jason of Chilmark, Tristan Israel of Tisbury, and Melinda Loberg of Tisbury. John Alley of West Tisbury, Les Leland of West Tisbury, and Tom Hallahan of Oak Bluffs did not attend the meeting.

Beyond the assessment, Island towns this year agreed to pay an increased share of the county’s health access program, the integrated pest services department, and the cost to replace windows in the Dukes County courthouse.

Those appropriations add $146,726 to the regular county assessment, bringing the taxpayer contribution to the county budget to $996,145.