The elected Dukes County commissioners treated county employees, board members, and volunteers to lunch Tuesday, April 26, and served up a heap of praise. April is county government month.
The invited guests included selectmen who serve on the county advisory board, which oversees the county budget, and volunteers who participate on county committees or programs. They feasted on a table of baked stuffed shrimp and other delicacies prepared by students in the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School culinary arts program.
A representative of each county department spoke briefly about the programs they manage.
County manager Russell Smith offered praise for county employees. “They’re very good, dependable people,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part. I believe there will always be a need for regional services. We will never be the leading government on the Island, nor should we plan to be.”
County treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders, who presides over a $231,820 department budget, highlighted dog licensing to illustrate county services that she said are overlooked.
“All of the money collected for the licenses goes to the county,” Ms. Flanders. “We hold that for any livestock damaged by dogs. Whatever is left over goes back to the towns for use in school or town libraries. It’s one of those quirky little things that not a lot of people understand.”
Health care access director Sarah Kuh said her program benefits many Island residents, and the need is growing. “It’s now one in eight people on the Island we help to get health benefits every year,” she said.
Showing concern for taxpayer pockets, county commissioner and Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel assured the group that the county commissioners had picked up the tab out of their own pockets.
County commissioners and members of the finance advisory board, which includes one selectman from each town, met Wednesday, April 27, to discuss the $5,574,278 budget for fiscal year 2012.
That figure includes the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, the Registry of Deeds, the treasurer’s department and sheriff’s department, entities not under the control or supervision of the county manager.
In terms of day-to-day supervision and responsibilities, the county manager manages three people in three departments: the assistant county manager, veterans affairs agent, and the integrated pest management worker.
Next year, Dukes County taxpayers will be asked to fund county employee pay hikes, although county-funded services directly under the control of the county manager continue to shrink.
Nearly all the county budget increases are attributable to salary increases resulting from a reorganization of the employee pay scale and a two-percent cost of living allowance (COLA) granted to county employees.