On night two, and for a second time Tisbury rejects connector road

Tisbury town moderator was back at it Wednesday night as voters returned to the meeting floor to complete the town's annual business. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

After failing to complete their annual business Tuesday night, a much reduced group of Tisbury voters got back to work Wednesday night and finished up before the clock struck 10 pm.

The second time was not the charm for DPW director Fred LaPiana who returned to voters for the second year in a row with a request to fund the construction of a connector road in order to decrease traffic congestion in the State Road-Five Corners-Beach Road Tisbury business district, especially during the summer months.

Discussion lasted about a half an hour. Several voters expressed concerns about the need to borrow $1.3 million, in light of other possible future projects.

The vote was 69 to 66, far short of the needed two-thirds majority.

Last year, town meeting voters rejected a request for $3 million to build two legs of the connector road. They also nixed a request to reduce the funding to $1.6 million to build the road with one exit.

Voters were not so stingy when it came to the town’s waterways. Following considerable discussion voters agreed to allow the town to borrow $500,000 to fund various dredging projects in Vineyard Haven Harbor and the Lake Tashmoo channel and inlet.

Voters approved a $21,480,032 budget for fiscal year 2014 (FY14), an increase of about 3.04 percent, or $632,824 over the FY13 budget of $20,8847,208.

The budget includes a 2 percent increase in department budgets to cover a 1.7 percent cost of living increase for the town’s union and non-union employees — except for teachers, who will receive contractual increases.

Sitting just across the street from the aging building the school superintendent wants to replace, voters turned down an article that requested $36,544 to fund Tisbury’s share of $566,000 for architectural design fees for a new office building for Superintendent James Weiss and his staff, a total of 22 people.

School business administrator Amy Tierney explained that the money includes the cost of an owner’s project manager, architectural design fees, and other fees that are part of the design process. Voters balked at the building’s estimated cost of $3.5 million. The vote was 81 to 55.

Finance and advisory committee chairman Larry Gomez said FinCom members voted 6-0 not to recommend the article because they thought it was a lot of money to pay for the building’s design. The FinCom also suggested that a modular building be considered. Ms. Tierney said the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School school committee is looking into.

Voters approved a long list of spending articles and willingly dug into a pot of money funded by the ferry embarkation fee levied on Steamship Authority passengers to fund a list of projects that included dock repairs at Owen Park, a new police cruiser, traffic officers and a new fire truck.

Voters also agreed to transfer $800,000 from the unreserved fund balance to reduce the tax rate.

The annual started at 7:10 with 111 voters present, just 11 over the needed quorum.