The MVC budget process explained


To The Editor:

We have sent this letter, dated November 11, to the Dukes County Commissioners and members of Island boards of selectmen.

In light of recent public discussions about the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s budget, we would like to make sure that you are aware of the MVC’s budgeting process. The MVC finance committee consists of one member from each Island town and the county, and all members have an opportunity to provide comments as we shape the budget. We are very aware of the financial challenges facing the towns and other public entities. We are making every effort to keep our budget as lean as possible without reducing our important responsibilities to the Island.

We are now at a very early stage of the procedure the MVC follows to prepare and adopt a budget, (enclosed). Staff prepared a first preliminary working draft budget, and the MVC finance committee, made up of a representative from each town and the county, provided initial comments. The preliminary working draft budget was revised to reflect comments from the MVC finance committee and was discussed with members of the All-Island Finance Association yesterday [Wed., Nov. 10]. Our goal is to complete a preliminary draft budget by the end of November, which will be forwarded to the individual town finance committees.

We hope to meet with these committees in December. During the final two weeks of December, the MVC finance committee will review comments, recommendations, and any revisions, and will vote on the final draft budget to be presented to the full commission for consideration. The full commission will vote on this budget during the final weeks of January.

During the course of the past year, we asked Mark Morse of MMA Consulting Group to review the commission’s compensation policies. With respect to the current salaries, Mr. Morse said: “I have reviewed your current salary ranges and compared the ranges to the comparative salary data that you provided to me. I believe that the ranges are reasonable, based [on] the data that I reviewed and on my general knowledge of salary trends. . . . The current assignment of positions to salary ranges appears to reflect the responsibilities set forth in the job descriptions.”

We also asked him to advise us on our use of compensation plan based on merit rather than a grade-and-step system for salary increases. His conclusion was: “The compensation plan that the commission uses is the type of plan that we would recommend for a professional organization with a small number of staff members. . . . I would recommend that you maintain the salary range plan.”

The formula for apportioning town assessments, set out by the legislature in the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Act, calls for the assessments to be divided based on each town’s equalized valuation. This means that in the current fiscal year, a property assessed at, say, $500,000 would pay about $19 in property taxes to support the MVC, no matter in which town the property is located.

We welcome the opportunity to provide you with additional information in the future.

John Breckenridge


Christina Brown


Martha’s Vineyard Commission

Oak Bluffs