Tisbury’s FY2015 budget deficit estimated at $1.2 million

Tisbury’s FY2015 budget deficit estimated at $1.2 million

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In an overview of the Tisbury budget presented to the selectmen Tuesday night, municipal finance director Tim McLean said that as it stands right now, the town faces an estimated budget deficit of $1.2 million.

Tisbury selectmen Jonathan Snyder and Tristan Israel spent about 90 minutes Tuesday night scrutinizing the town’s fiscal year 2015 (FY15) budget, department by department, in preparation for annual town meeting in April. Mr. Snyder served as the chairman in the absence of Jeff Kristal, who was on vacation.

“That gives us $700,000 in free cash to offset the deficit, and leaves us probably with 11 override articles over $35,000,” Mr. McLean said. “We would use the rest of the free cash that we had to fund all of the articles, $35,000 and under. That’s just the first pass.”

Mr. McLean said the numbers are not final yet, such as insurance amounts that have changed, and he used last year’s figures for the department of public works (DPW), which has not submitted its FY15 budget yet.

Under Massachusetts law, Proposition 2.5 limits property tax increases by municipalities to 2.5 percent annually. Overrides to increase the tax levy require a two-thirds majority vote of approval for a municipal referendum.

Mr. McLean said that if the town used all of its free cash to offset the budget, a deficit of $620,000 would still remain, and voters would face 33 override articles on the ballot. To avoid overwhelming voters, he recommended using only $550,000 in free cash and adding some of the funding requests made in articles to the budget.

“We’re going to have a general override, one way or the other,” Mr. McLean said. “So we can either minimize the general override and have a whole bunch of articles, or we can maximize the general override and try to keep a minimum number of additional articles as overrides.”

Mr. McLean said Tisbury’s budget deficit has been a long time coming.

“We’ve been holding the departments to a certain level of basically no increase for the last six, seven, eight years,” he said. “We knew we were coming to this at some point in time, and this is the year that it’s happening.”

Although Tisbury has not had a general override in over 20 years, Mr. McLean said the town budget has absorbed many added expenses during that time for affordable housing, the Charter School, double-digit health care increases, other post-employment benefits (OPEB), and more.

Mr. McLean said that from his perspective, a general override article is better than a targeted override article. “I think we’re all in it together, and I think the best way to fund it is that we all work with the override together, rather than targeting certain departments and pitting one department against another,” he said.

With that said, the selectmen reviewed department budgets and requested more information about several budget figures, including ones for legal counsel, comfort station personnel, fuel for police department vehicles, ambulance and EMT personnel, and the harbormaster’s boat repairs. The selectmen requested town administrator Jay Grande to ask representatives from Tisbury School, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to explain their budgets at a future meeting.

In keeping with Mr. McLean’s earlier suggestion, the selectmen went through a list of town meeting warrant articles, some they initiated and others from town departments they oversee, and discarded many of them.

“If we don’t pass that override, the budgetary consequence to the town will be severe,” Mr. Snyder said at the end of the budget discussion.

“We’ll have to make cuts,” Mr. Israel added.

In other business, the selectmen continued a public hearing regarding Café Moxie’s application to change from a year-round beer and wine license to a seasonal one. They also voted to authorize the DPW to exceed its FY14 snow and ice removal budget, and to increase the Tisbury Police Department’s detail pay from $40 to $44 an hour to match the new State Police rate, as agreed to in the union contract.


  1. Start by eliminating the entire DPW budget, dismantle and remove their board for gross negligence and start over by giving control of that department back to the board of selectmen. The recent hiring in the two top positions with people with no experience over some with many years experience, without any fact checking of any kind by the board is reason enough for board removal. This is the biggest unprofessional travesty even seen in the Town Of Tisbury and needs to be corrected before someone gets hurt or worse as a result of this decision. An immediate investigation into these hires and the actions/inaction of the board of commissioners in not checking backgrounds and false qualifications needs to be undertaken. What a huge waste of taxpayer dollars if this is not done immediately!

    1. BRAVO!!! As a taxpayer in this town I am sick and tired of my hard earned tax dollars paying for inefficient departments. If the town actually operated like a private business, they would be OUT of business! Time to clean up gentlemen.

      1. start by eliminating an assistant director that we don’t need at 70 plus thousand a year!

    2. Absolutely right!!!! To hire a DPW director who has both a law degree and an engineering degree makes me question things right from the start. The reality is that a business degree or a degree in municipal finance would better suit the town. When is the town ever going to utilize the engineering degree? Do they really want to own the liability involved with inhouse engineering? A person with a business or municipal finance degree as the director and a person with years of experience in road maintainence and heavy construction as the assistant would seem logical. Instead we have a law degree/engineering degree at the top and a 30+ year experienced valet parking director in the top two positions.
      These two were put in place by a cast of characters who need to be removed immidiately because of their lack of dedication to the town. To put these two in the positions they did without checking references or verifying work and personal history is an atrosity. If the selectmen continue to write checks from the town accounts for DPW operations they too should be held accountable.

      1. Your really questioning the choice of degrees for qualifications? First the engineering degree is a requirement for the job. Second it is a very useful degree for understanding the technical aspects for bid proposals, structural requirements for buildings and understanding plant operations for things such as the sewer plant. The law degree is also very useful for the job. The laws in this state and country have become an absolute minefield for anyone in an administrative position. Among many of the legal issues now are hiring, firing, negotiations with unions, even issuing a bid request has a thousand pitfalls and rules. We have seen the problems with major projects in this town ie the police station, the emergency services building and the burying of the electrical lines downtown. Don’t you think that this combination of qualifications might help prevent these problems?
        Regarding the DPW commissioners remember they can only choose from the candidates that apply. Are you suggesting there was a better qualified candidate that applied for the job?

  2. Ask how much money the town spent on legal fees to fight me on burning wood
    in a PERMITTED wood stove ! Enjoy your high taxes !
    You wanted a D.P.W. you got it. I gave up on V.H. and moved out.
    Spend money you don’t have,on stuff you don’t need. Look at the roads in town,

    wait till you get that bill,what happened to the underground conduit on main street
    that cost $$$$$$ ? The list goes on,like the road the D.P.W. started on.

  3. There ism no way you can get these guys removed. Who will investigate,on what grounds, we have little if no recourse. As long as you have a mentality that “”someone has got to pay”” you will have this for ever.