Tisbury officials set town warrants
Tisbury selectmen Tristan Israel and Jeffrey Kristal signed off on the April 7 special town meeting and April 14 annual town meeting warrants at a board meeting Tuesday night. Selectman chairman Denys Wortman was absent.
The selectmen voted to go into executive session at the end of the meeting. They approved the annual town meeting warrant after reconvening in open session.
Mr. Kristal said in a follow-up call yesterday the purpose of the executive session was to discuss an article that would authorize the selectmen to take a view easement of property north of the Tashmoo overlook. Of particular interest is property owned by Thomas and Jinny Payette near Lake Tashmoo, where some oak trees are blocking the view of the water from State Road.
Mr. Kristal said he and Mr. Israel agreed to withdraw the article and to ask the town's Conservation Committee to review the matter.
Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom) chairman Larry Gomez said in a phone call yesterday that his committee voted not to give their approval for the article at a meeting a few weeks ago. "We didn't know whether there would be any legal costs, maintenance costs, or ongoing costs through the years, and a couple of people thought the issue might be an infringement of property rights," he said. "It would be better for everybody to do this on a friendly basis."
During the selectmen's discussion session, FinCom vice chairman Jonathan Snyder gave a power-point presentation about Tisbury's unfunded liability for retirement benefits for town employees, entitled "Wrestling the Alligator". He said yesterday that he plans to make the same presentation at town meeting.
Mr. Snyder and the FinCom support the idea that Tisbury should set aside $1.56 million for the next 20 years in a fund to pay for the benefits, referred to as Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB). Otherwise, he pointed out, the unfunded accrued liability costs will continue to grow, and so will the payments and interest.
Noting that the FinCom had earlier proposed a figure of around $700,000, Mr. Israel expressed reluctance at the $1.56 million figure. "Once we put money in this fund, we can't get it out," he said. "We could be wrapping up a whole lot of money, at a time when we're looking to fund an emergency services facility and other infrastructure needs."
"I don't have a problem putting it on an override," Mr. Kristal said. "I just don't think it will pass. I don't think town meeting will stomach this."
The selectmen did agree to put the larger number on the override ballot, however. "I think the shock value works at $1.56 million," Mr. Kristal said.
Mr. Snyder also noted that a regional committee is exploring the idea of creating a legal structure for towns and regional entities to put money aside to fund the liability.
In other business, the selectmen approved an auto rental license for Mark Wallace, allowing him to move his Budget rental car business from 36 Water Street, next to Menemsha Blues, to 19 Beach Road, where he will share space with Jason Leone, owner of Adventure Rentals. The selectmen approved the change, provided the number of cars on the site remains the same.
Mr. Wallace also requested the selectmen's approval to pursue the possibility of moving the rest of his rental car business at 45 Water Street, on the corner across from the Steamship Authority, to a property off Holmes Hole Road. The selectmen agreed to draft a letter about his proposal to the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
Town clerk Marion Mudge asked the selectmen to revive an old town tradition by appointing one or two election officers to supervise Tisbury's polls at the annual town election on April 28. Ms. Mudge explained that she has no one to supervise the polling place this year because the town's two constables are both running for reelection.
Mr. Israel appealed to the public to contact Ms. Mudge if interested in serving, and the selectmen will consider candidates at their next meeting on March 24.
Due to the absence of the complainants, a dog hearing was rescheduled for March 31 at 6 pm.