Edgartown selectmen agreed Monday to continue their practice of taxing all residential, commercial, industrial and open space property at the same rate. The vote followed a brief public hearing and presentation from board of assessors representative Alan Gowell.
“It’s our recommendation that we treat all four classes of property the same,” Mr. Gowell told selectmen. “Commercial, residential, industrial and open space, we believe we should have just one tax rate for all four classifications, which we have always done here in Edgartown.”
Mr. Gowell also told selectmen that the increase from $3.55 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation to $3.70 is a four to five percent increase from 2012.
Mr. Gowell also told selectmen he had some good news to share.
“We have a great amount of state-owned land,” Mr. Gowell told selectmen. “The state has valued those properties at $128 million. This year they have dropped that valuation to $100 million.”
Mr. Gowell told selectmen that the assessors have appealed that valuation, and the state has revalued its land at “about” $128 million.
“The other bit of good news is we have just learned today that the appellate tax board has settled 18 cases that we had before them,” Mr. Gowell said.
The 18 cases had been working their way through the appellate tax board in Boston, Mr. Gowell told selectmen. “Today we got the decision, and the town of Edgartown prevailed in each of the 18 cases and the values that we assessed,” he said.
In other business, town administrator Pamela Dolby told selectmen that she is in the process of completing the 2014 budget.
“Hopefully, by tomorrow I’ll have all of them in, and we can start dealing with some numbers,” Ms. Dolby told selectmen. “In an effort to try and not spend more than what we have.”
Ms. Dolby made note of a $495,000 increase for the Edgartown School budget. “That’s mostly due to the shared services from the superintendent’s office,” she told selectmen. “That’s a huge chunk right there.”
In other business, selectmen approved an application for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
“Edgartown has submitted a grant for the last few years, and we have been overall quite successful,” said Christine Flynn, economic development and affordable housing coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.
As in years past, Ms. Flynn is assisting Edgartown, as well as grant writer Alice Boyd of Bailey Boyd Associates, in the FY 2014 CDBG application process. CDBG funds are channeled through Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, which are the two lead communities for the program and pay the cost to apply for the grants. Ms. Flynn said Edgartown partners with Chilmark and Aquinnah, and West Tisbury every third year, and Oak Bluffs partners with Tisbury in applying for the grant.
This year, rehab improvements on 26 properties were completed and 42 children received child care subsidies paid for from the grant, Ms. Flynn told selectmen. “We would like to continue this grant project, we will be able to apply for up to a million dollars and have a waitlist of up to 56 families,” she said. “With this program, I keep thinking we’re gonna run out of need, and it just doesn’t happen.”
“It’s a terrific program, and we’re grateful that its been successful,” selectman Arthur Smadbeck said.
The CDBG application is due Thursday February 14.
In other news, selectmen made a motion to Lattanzi’s restaurant to close until Monday, December 9, while town administrator Pamela Dolby sorts through the legal and technical details of the restaurant’s recent sale.
“Lattanzi’s restaurant was sold and the people that bought it, from what we’ve been told, it is their intent to lease it to a business, but they don’t have that business yet,” Ms. Dolby told selectmen. “What I’m asking you right now, so that it’s legal, is to allow Lattanzi’s to be closed until next Monday until you make a further decision.”
In other news, Edgartown selectmen voted to accept a proposed donation of two pieces of land off of Crab Creek Road. The land is owned by Edgartown resident Herbert Tate. the donation.
“That’s where people park, that’s where people dump shells, that’s where people go crabbing,” conservation commissioner Jane Varkonda said. “He’s had it in his family forever, but now I guess he’s ready, willing, and able.”
Selectmen approved aquaculture licence renewals for Ryan Smith, Nicholas Turner, Jason Bennett, and Daniel Donnelly.
Mr. Bennett’s license was renewed despite complaints and pending legal action brought against him by Thomas Rogers.
In a letter to selectmen, Mr. Rogers’s attorney wrote that the “…objection is based upon the grounds that Jason Bennett has failed to comply with all provisions set forth in section 10 of the policy and regulations for Edgartown aquaculture.” The letter continued, “Mr. Bennett has failed to cause all cages, equipment, or bags to be permanently marked or tagged with the lease number.”
Ms. Dolby said such a complaint should have gone to the shellfish constable first. “I contacted Paul Bagnell and asked him about this,” she said. “There have been no complaints brought to the shellfish committee regarding Jason Bennett’s aquaculture.” Ms. Dolby said she also contacted Town counsel Ronald Rappaport.
“The process would be if Jason Bennett had been doing something wrong or violations were committed they would be brought to the attention of the shellfish committee and the shellfish committee would hold a public hearing.”
Finally, selectmen voted to approve an annual review for animal control officer (ACO) Barbara Prada Monday.
“Barbara does a fabulous job, everyone knows that,” selectman Smadbeck said to kick off the review.
“It wasn’t my most stellar year, that’s for sure,” Ms. Prada said. “There’s been a lot of weird things going on.”
Ms. Prada took the opportunity of her review to inform selectmen about initiating a Disaster Animal Response Team (DART).
“After hurricane Katrina, the federal government passed a law that says you have to provide a pet-friendly shelter in your community,” Ms. Prada told selectmen.
Ms. Prada said they are currently working with companion animals and next they will work with livestock. Ms. Prada said the location for the new shelter will either be at the Tisbury School or the West Tisbury school. “We’re trying to collect some equipment for it so if anybody knows anybody that has dog crates they don’t need we’re looking for them.”