Tisbury completes annual

Tisbury completes annual

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Tisbury town meeting crowd on the first of two nights. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

After failing to complete their annual business Tuesday night, a reduced group of 132 Tisbury voters got back to work Wednesday night and finished up a few minutes before the clock struck 10 pm. Their big decision of the evening, which generated very little discussion, was approval of a $23,186,156 operating budget for fiscal year 2015 (FY15), which starts July 1.

The budget is up by $1,706,124, an increase of about 7.9 percent over the FY14 budget of $21,480,032. The increase in spending will require approval of a general override, which would be a permanent change to the town’s tax levy. An override question will appear on the ballot at Tisbury’s elections on May 13 and requires a simple majority.

If the general override is also approved at the polls, the town will be allowed to assess an additional $1,296,084 in real estate and personal property taxes. $1,111,084 would support the town and school operating budgets, and $185,000 would fund capital stabilization funds for the fire, ambulance, and department of public works (DPW).

Heavy rain that pounded the Tisbury School gymnasium roof made it hard for town meeting moderator Deborah Medders and the voters to hear at times. A chill in the air and the gloomy weather did not dampen the voters’ “yes” mood, however, as they approved nearly everything in the 21 articles that remained after Tuesday night’s meeting.

They agreed to a lengthy list of capital appropriations and other new equipment that included a new vehicle for the harbormaster; an alarm system, interior building improvements and new network server for the Vineyard Haven Public Library; a new security system for Tisbury School; and a replacement vehicle to be kept in Woods Hole for use by town officials and personnel.

Voters did not agree to a request submitted by the selectmen to spend $15,000 to improve the temporary parking lot on the site of the old fire station. They voted to table the article in response to a motion made by Len Morris. He suggested the selectmen should come up with a more defined plan for the lot that includes a clear set of options from which voters could choose, including leaving it as open space.

All but one of 15 projects were approved for funding with Community Preservation Fund revenues. Voters rejected a request for $15,000 to continue the Tashmoo Overlook View restoration project, a private undertaking by a committee to explore a “view easement,” that selectman chairman Jeff Kristal described during discussion about it as “nothing but a taking in disguise.”

Attendance on the second annual meeting night was down by 51 voters from the previous night. The 132 attendees represented about 4.1 percent of the town’s 3,207 voters.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the override vote requires a two-thirds majority. A simple majority is needed to pass.


    1. I heard Mr. Tim McLean’s comment on Wednesday evenings Town Meeting about why the Towns FY15 budget is being presented to us as it is currently proposed. To paraphrase his comment, ” we decided to present the FY15 budget as is rather than as individual budget requests, to prevent each department from ” in fighting” for the same $’s, it just seems counterproductive.” In my opinion when you put every budget request in one lump sum without the option to vote for or against an increase in that particular departments increase request, you are giving carte blanche to what might be a minority vote for said budget increase request, assuming the general override passes on May 13th. He’s right when he, Mr. McLean, said the options available are, if it does not pass, again I paraphrase “1) resubmit at another special Town Meeting the FY15 budget as is. 2) Vote on each departments request as individual line items. 3) But no matter what there is going to be the need for a 2.5 override.” Well, It seems to me, voting for each department as individual line items would force each department to truly consider, and possibly lower what is being requested in the hope that said request would be acceptable to the voters for approval. When you run it as a group general override and the need for the individual departments increase is only on the one FY’s budget, why should “we” as taxpayers be forced to pay for that request as a 2.5 override, once the question 2.5 does pass? As a contractor I am always competing for a specific $ allowance a homeowner or business owner has available. Most times, assuming each proposal is not apples and oranges, the deciding factor in who receives the contract is the lowest bidder. It gives the home/business owner the “best” deal available, and forces the contractor” to work efficiently in order to maintain a profit. Why should this system not be considered when “we” are looking at a 2.5 this year? The possible/inevitable increase to our yearly property tax is more than likely going to be spread out by those of us that can in operating costs. But what about those that simply are struggling already to pay their bills and have no such possibility? It’s wonderful that every department is growing and needs more money, “a business not growing, is dying.”, but at some point there must be individual checks and balances?

      1. Sounds to me like he has been reading “Obama’s Socialized and Feelgood Playbook”. That trickle down BS has finally hit MVI!

        1. Would respond more but as your comment is written, I do not understand if “he” is me? What is referred to as “accepted to do it the new way”? And I certainly am in the 1 out of 5 past election voters!!

          1. Lee, you are correct on many fronts but your assumption is that of LFraker. That being the budgets are fraught with fluff and puff. 1) I, like you, take what Mr. McLean says with truth which would mean that they are not fraught with fluff. Just because one individual, like Ms. Fraker, is not happy with a particular department head then she feels, and others, that their way is the only alternative. I for one think that FinCom reviews these budgets because that is what happens in all towns. It makes sense. If you’re not happy with the budget of a certain department you go to FinCom. Makes sense. Instead of putting up roadblocks, like she did in my town of Edgartown, you need to come with solutions and not at the 11th hour. 2) I would assume that accountability is there since budgets in all towns are dragged through the muck and not just passed willy nilly. There are several layers of approval for budgets and to say that it should be taken dept. by dept. would not have the best interest in mind for anyone living on the island or in tisbury.

            For instance. Cut the shellfish budget and that cuts either services to the Commercial fishermen or resident recreational fishermen/family/elderly. Cut the DPW budget and roads and needed repairs don’t get done on town buildings. Cut the Harbor department and pump out programs or repairs and maintenance upkeep goes by the wayside or relaxed. Who wants little enforcement when it comes to dumping raw sewerage into the harbors of our island. Cut the Planning Board’s budget and you have antiquated zoning because change costs money for review and implementation. Reducing the fire department budget calls for slower response with older equipment because you haven’t funded new hoses, apparatus or air packs for the safety of the staff. Reducing the EMS budget only hurts the care of people most often our elderly.

            So I am not sure where your town issues are with the budget but I would assume they are where everyone else’s is in and over time. Wages and Salaries often increase more than 2.5 and they are most likely union and management. The longer tenure they have, the more they make.

            It’s inevitable.

          2. I think my biggest concern is that a “one time” budget increase for a specific fiscal year is carried into a 2.5 override. Why should that specific departments increase be put on the books, if it’s not a salary but a 1 time operating cost? And maybe I don’t clearly understand where the money came from or how it might affect the Town of Tisbury, but to approve a private interest groups fundraising (Gay Head Light) in another town, when the town the money is coming from has it’s own budget issues is absurd. If it was the missing piece of costs they needed, that’s one thing I suppose, but when in reality they have already told us, Tisbury, that they will be back next year for more, I think we could of differed or at least passed Mr. Tristen Isreals motion of 15K instead of passing the 50K that we did.

          3. problem is that money doesn’t affect your budget. That money is on your tax rate and taken out at 3%, That is an additional tax which you should work on getting reduced or taken away (CPC that is). So the 50,000 is something that was already taken from you before town meeting and had nothing to do with the override.

          4. I understand it was already taking out, but when the town is facing a deficit, couldn’t that 50K of been applied to help offset our 1.7 mill?

          5. No, Tristan made the point that the CPC money should be used for important Tisbury projects such as housing, rather than a project in another Town. Voters chose to support an Island project after a convincing presentation. CPC money/tax/State match is a whole new discussion.

          6. I heard him amend the figure from 50k to 15k and even stood up to speak in favor of that amendment myself.

          7. You are correct, but the reason he ammended it was that he did not think our Town should support projects in other Towns, he thought it should stay in Tisbury. I believe that had the amendment passed, the $35,000 would not have been spent, but the money can’t be used elsewhere. It stays in the Town CPC Trust Fund and can be used later. Here’s some more information about CPC. Keep asking questions, it keeps the politicians on their toes!!!!!!

          8. I concur with his thought process. If I recall, “we” voted his amendment down, and passed the 50K figure. Then the system is set up to force spending in areas that the money can only/shouldn’t be used! If “we” have shortfalls, all unreserved/ unspent reserved/ and/or money set aside in other areas, SHOULD be able to be used to offset any shortfalls! I’m all for keeping the Gay Head Lighthouse, but not with public funds no matter how they are classified. And the fact “we” are running a deficit for FY15 confounds me that money anywhere in a Town is off limits to help do just that. Should of seen the horrified looks I got from the people sitting next to me every time I voted NAY.

          9. I have nothing to do with Edgartown. You seem more interested in personal attacks than the issues. I have a great deal of respect for Tim McLean and the Fin Com. I agreed that the budgets should not be looked at as one, and the public should see where their money going. Efficiency is not fluff. You state you are not sure about our town issues and you know what they say about assuming.

          10. I do know that your town meeting takes budgets department b y department and you’re supposed to object if you want to talk specific about a departments budget. Did you? I bring up you and Edg cause you were instrumental of screwing up dredge permits with the state and injecting your innuendos into the dredge operation. Not a personal attack.

          11. Budgets were not available. You need to use your real full name.Making inappropriate, off the subject, untrue comments will get you deleted from this page as it has before.

          12. Donny, you had more to do with the problems with the Edg dredge than anyone else.Innuendos? You were protected. Edg dredge bullied OB and cost OB a lot of money. I was instrumental in getting permits and did not screw anything up. In the end, with your help, Edg dredge screwed itself.

          13. So Donny, you as a member of the Edg Shellfish committee don’t review the budget? How about your attacks on your Shellfish Constable? Pumpout program is paid by a grant. I speak about the programs I know about, the Harbor is one, and I have suggested numerous solutions. What’s your solution? I believe that the public has a right to know where their hard earned money is going. How much is salary, how much is maintenance, fuel, other operating costs. Not necessarily reduce those costs. 2.5 override may be inevitable, but it needs to be clear why and which depts have the largest increase and why.

          14. I agree with you on one thing and that is the public has to know where their money is being spent and on whom. Do you still work there? If no, why no?

      2. Thank you for your well stated comment. I agree, the public should have an opportunity to vote on each department budget. It seems that the public process is a bit broken in Tisbury with a minority making decisions in many areas. A 2.5 override may be inevitable, as you say, but it should not give carte blanche to budget increases, competition keeps expenses down. Budgets need review with a sharp pencil. An example is the Harbor budget, which was not reviewed by the Harbor Committee. No opportunity to suggest efficiencies and the budget increase will be paid for through increased fees and property taxes. One problem is that if a department budgets poorly, they can just go to fin com and ask for more. Fin Com might not like it, but never says no. You are right on, there needs to be checks and balances starting with public review of each budget.The public should think hard about public process and how to vote on the overide.