Edgartown Town Meeting: $26 million
Edgartown voters will consider a 53-article annual town meeting warrant when they meet Tuesday.
They will be asked for money to study a bike path on Chappaquiddick and for renovations for the town library. They will also be asked to add three new special ways to the Island Road District, and to take the first step in establishing two new mobile phone antenna towers.
The meeting convenes in the Old Whaling Church at 7 pm on Tuesday. Thursday, voters will go to the polls in the Town Hall meeting room, between 10 am and 7 pm, to elect town officers. There are no contests, but voters must decide seven ballot questions, worth $829,470 in Proposition 2.5 override requests.
Those requests include $236,000 to maintain the town dredge program, $108,901 to cap an old landfill site, $19,167 to pay a share of the costs for the Duke's County Health Care Access Program, and $11,198 for the county's pest control department.
Question seven, a request for $274,203 to pay the town's Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) assessment, is largely symbolic.
"We are seeking the public's opinion," the financial advisory committee (FinCom) wrote in its report to the town meeting. "As we have fulfilled our commitment in regard to the Island Plan, we anticipated a reduction in the budget and accordingly, our assessment, for this fiscal year. This was not the case. We also asked the commission to take a look at the raises they were giving their staff this year, an average of four percent, yet we saw no compromise in this area."
Town officials concede that if voters reject the ballot question, the town will remain legally obligated to pay the assessment.
At the annual meeting, voters will be asked to approve a $26 million operating budget, which cuts spending in several town departments, but includes increases for the Edgartown School and the town's share of educating students at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
The elementary school budget, for which Edgartown is entirely responsible, increased by $251,512, or 5.5 percent. The assessment for the high school rose $272,647, or 9.1 percent.
The total operating budget and warrant articles, if approved as proposed, would represent an increase of $180,599 for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1. The total spending increased 0.66 percent over last year.
Town employees will receive a "step" raise of four percent if they have not yet reached the top step on the town's compensation scale. Early in the budgeting process, budget builders ruled out a cost of living adjustment for employees. "Responding to the fiscal challenges in this atmosphere of economic turmoil while maintaining the fine programs and services for which Edgartown is known is a considerable task," the FinCom wrote in its report.