Edgartown selectmen unhappy with hike in MVC costs

Edgartown selectmen were unhappy to learn at their Monday night meeting that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s (MVC) assessment to the town will increase by 1.6 percent from $286,829 to $291,486 in the next fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Town officials and the MVC have been at odds over the amount the town must contribute under the assessment formula to the regional planning and permitting agency’s operating budget. With the new assessment figures, Edgartown would pay 36.7 percent of the MVC’s total operating costs, a larger share than any other town. The increase came as a surprise.

“Our warrant is printed,” town administrator Pam Dolby said. “They said they were level-funding. We have this new assessment, an increase of $4,000. It’s not on the warrant because it’s too late.”

Ms. Dolby said the town will have to deal with the unexpected increase later in the fiscal year.

“That vote for that amount took place in January, and we just got word of that,” chairman Margaret Serpa said. “I think that’s unfortunate.”

In budget documents approved on January 10, the MVC said the total assessment for all towns would not increase this year, but assessments to individual towns changed because of new equalized property valuations issued by the Department of Revenue on January 31.

In other business, about 20 members of the Edgartown Library Foundation, the library board of trustees, and the library design committee filled the selectmen’s meeting room to discuss naming rights for donors who contribute funds for the proposed library project. The library design committee referred the foundation to the board of selectmen.

“The library foundation, in their solicitation for funds had asked if they would like to name specific desks, or rooms, for a specific amount of money,” trustee chairman Pat Rose told selectmen. “The ball is really in the court of the trustees, not the foundation.”

Ms. Rose cited a state law that says in part, “all money or property which the town may receive by gift or bequest for said library…shall be administered” by the library board.

Ms. Rose said she would continue to research the issue. Selectmen did not comment or take any action.

On Tuesday, Ms. Dolby cited a different state law that appears to give selectmen responsibility for accepting gifts to the town. It says in part that selectmen “may accept grants or gifts of funds from…a charitable foundation,” and “may expend such funds for the purposes of such grant or gift.”

Also Monday, selectmen opened a public hearing on an application for a new alcohol license for the Edgartown Fish and Meat Market, a new business located in Post Office Square. But the hearing was immediately continued to next Monday at 4 pm, so that the full board can hear those who object or support the license application. Selectman Art Smadbeck did not attend Monday’s meeting.