Oak Bluffs Town Meeting: $24.1 million
A $24.1 million operating budget, beach and dredging projects, a complete revamping of the animal control bylaw, and $770,000 worth of Community Preservation Act (CPA) projects await Oak Bluffs voters who will gather for special and annual town meetings on Tuesday, April 14.
The special town meeting will begin at 7 pm, at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center, to be followed immediately by the annual meeting.
The operating budget includes three percent raises for nearly every town employee. The town is contractually obliged to make these pay adjustments, according to the terms of union contracts with police, teachers, and administrators.
Large salary increases for the town administrator and the town clerk may draw the attention of voters.
Town administrator Michael Dutton, who currently earns $99,900, would see his salary increase to $117,000, a pay hike of 17.1 percent.
Town clerk Deborah Ratcliff, who currently earns $64,147, would see her salary rise to $74,360, an increase of 15.9 percent.
Ron DiOrio, chairman of the selectman, said those increases are intended to address past discrepancies. "I don't think it's going to be an issue," he said. "Everyone has bought into the compensation study that we have implemented across the board. Both with the clerk and with Michael, it's just bringing them in line with what we agreed to do. In Michael's case, he's not had an increase in two years, and it still places him below what the compensation study says we should do. It's the same with clerk."
There are three Proposition 2.5 override articles in the warrant, to fund county pest control and healthcare services. But town officials expect to amend those articles on the town meeting floor, so they are funded within the operating budget, with no need for an override.
The budget is level-funded to the dollar from last year's spending plan. In order to fund employee raises and higher school and police budgets, selectmen opted to sharply reduce the highway department budget, a budget strategy that met sharp opposition from the financial advisory committee.
Last year's special and annual town meeting carried over four nights, much of it taken up by voters demanding greater detail in the town's operating budget. Town officials have promised to make the spending plans more understandable and more detailed at this year's meeting.
"We have broken out the entire budget," said town administrator Michael Dutton. "All of the 'other charges and expenses,' are being laid out with a lot more detail. In those departments where there are $5,000 of 'other charges,' they can see the six or seven things that's going to pay for."