Aquinnah special includes $119,000 in spending requests

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Aquinnah Town Hall will be the venue for town meeting May 8. - File photo

Aquinnah voters will be asked to take up 11 spending requests and a move to change from an elected to an appointed board of assessors when they gather for a special town meeting at 7 pm Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Should voters approve a change in how the three-member board of assessors is chosen, the question would appear on the ballot at the annual town elections on May 11, 2016.

Historic preservation and open space and recreation projects account for the bulk of the spending requests.

These include $5,000 from the Historic Reserve Fund for increased mortgage payments on the Vanderhoop Homestead, and $6,500 from the Open Space Reserve Fund for overall analysis and planning at Aquinnah Circle.

In an executive summary that accompanies the warrant, town administrator Adam Wilson said it is the community preservation committee’s recommendation “that we utilize CPA funds for expenses involved for a team of graduate students and faculty advisors from the Conway School of Landscape Design to conduct a public planning process over the coming winter regarding overall planning (both short-term and long-term) at the Aquinnah Circle.”

Town leaders will also ask to use $21,000 from the undesignated fund for the burial of overhead wires at Aquinnah Circle, “including the installation of underground conduit, wires and ground level transformers, along with the removal of existing overhead wires, transformers, and power poles. It is the CPC’s recommendation to support 15 percent of the total budgeted project cost. The town would then seek the balance of the funds from the State as well as private donors if needed.”

Eversource has agreed to bury all but one of the power lines at a highly discounted price of $135,000.

Voters will be asked to approve two separate spending requests of $15,000, one from free cash and the other from community preservation reserves, $30,000 in total, for the cost for designing, permitting, and construction of a new bridge and pathway to Philbin Beach. Mr. Wilson said private donations total about $6,000 for the project.

The deteriorating condition of the police department building adjacent to town hall accounts for a request for $30,000 for needed structural repairs and improvements.

Cramped conditions in town hall underpin a request for $15,000 needed to redesign office space. In the executive summary, Mr. Wilson said the appropriation will redesign and enhance office space areas for the tax collector, treasurer, health agent, and director of public works.

Topping the 10-article warrant is a request to return $59,475 to the stabilization fund, money withdrawn in January after the town found itself short when a series of financial missteps, underestimates of revenue from fees, licenses, and fines, and late property tax payments combined to create a $101,564 budget deficit.

Additional articles include: a request by the board of assessors for $2,500 for additional work hours needed to accomplish the midterm examination of property assessments; $3,700 to pay for a new computer server on the recommendation of a consultant who said that the current server is soon to be “in a failure mode” and needs to be replaced; and $5,000 for a new copying machine.