In Edgartown, voters happy to spend. All done.
Edgartown voters debated, but not for very long, and they spent, but not more than they were asked to spend. And just after 9 pm - about the time voters in the neighboring towns of Tisbury and Oak Bluffs likely realized they would have to return on additional nights - Edgartown voters filed out of the stately Old Whaling Church having approved a $26 million operating budget and most of the 53 warrant articles.
A total of 257, or eight percent, of Edgartown's 3,094 registered voters attended annual town meeting.
Today voters 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.
Even as voters continued to file in, at the scheduled 7 pm start, town clerk Wanda Williams confirmed that a quorum of 155 voters had assembled. With a bang of his gavel, moderator Philip "Jeff" Norton kicked into action.
In the time reserved for town reports, selectman Art Smadbeck described the fiscal caution that had guided budget decisions. He said the town would be under its levy limit by $125,000. That cushion is important, Mr. Smadbeck said, because of uncertainty over how much money the town will receive from the state.
Forty-nine of 53 articles on the annual town meeting warrant required action by voters. Procedures rather than money were at the heart of several of the issues voters raised.
The first article to attract an objection, Article 5, combined a request for adjustments to seasonal wage scales with a request to create the position of finance director and establish a salary at the town's highest grade level.
Pia Webster, a town employee, said that the town should not be establishing new positions in a year when it was not providing cost of living adjustments. At the very least, she said, the creation of a new job should be treated in a separate article.
Ms. Webster laced her arguments with repeated bodyweight metaphors. Following a reference to Ben and Jerry's ice cream, she said, "The town is supposed to be getting slim."
Exercising his trademark humor, Mr. Norton, who has grown in his job as moderator over more than two decades of service, said, "I wish you'd stop talking about that."
Pam Dolby, town administrator, explained that a finance director is needed because of increasingly burdensome financial requirements. No money was attached to the new positions, she said, which would be funded from existing departments.