Tisbury pares connector funds. Back Wednesday.
Updated, 9:10 am, Thursday
Tisbury voted 136 yes, 109 no on allowing the selectmen to file a home rule petition on the question of beer and wine. The article came up at 9:08 pm , and a standing vote was taken at 10:57 pm. A total of 263 voters attended town meeting Wednesday night, compared with 344 on Tuesday.
After the beer/wine article vote, those voters still present agreed to keep going in order to finish up the remaining nine warrant articles. There was a brief discussion about postponing consideration of some of the articles until special town meeting in the fall. But voters agreed that would not be possible, because several related to questions that will appear on the April 28 ballot. The meeting that began at 7:05 pm adjourned at 11:28 pm.
A standing room only crowd of 344 packed Tisbury's annual town meeting Tuesday, representing about 12 percent of the town's 2,871 registered voters. As town moderator Deborah Medders started the meeting at 20 minutes past the scheduled start time of 7 pm, latecomers straggling in found seats, and bleachers filled in Tisbury School's gymnasium.
They trimmed, but approved, funding for a connector road between State Road and the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road, and they agreed to a 4.1-percent cost of living wage increase for some town employees.
Voters dealt with 12 warrant articles in three hours Tuesday, leaving 25 to go, and they agreed at 10 pm to continue the meeting Wednesday at 7 pm. Many voters left disappointed that the issue of a beer and wine licensing home rule petition would be left to ferment for another night. Under Tisbury's lottery system for choosing the order of articles, number 14 did not bubble up.
Noting that approving all of the spending set out in the warrant articles could yield a 13-percent increase in taxes, Abbe Burt cautioned her fellow voters, "I think we should seriously consider every penny we spend tonight."
Among the articles approved by the evening's end, voters agreed to borrow $1,850,000, to pay for the design of the connector road and to fund resurfacing and rebuilding of various town roads and sidewalks; to give a 4.1-percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) to town managerial and professional employees; and to appropriate $17,000 for capital expenditures for the police and harbormaster departments.
Consideration of a $4 million bond issue proposal for funding the connector road and repairs and reconstruction of several town roads and sidewalks generated the meeting's lengthiest and most contentious discussion and took up an hour and 15 minutes.
That big ticket item called for the town to borrow $2.5 million for designing and constructing a connector road between Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road, plus another $1.5 million for local projects.
Those included rebuilding and resurfacing about 20 roads and about 14 sidewalks, as well as replacing Tisbury School's traffic warning lights and the Park and Ride lighting fixtures, drainage structures, and signs.
Department of Public Works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana explained that bundling the road project costs would save the town money over the long run by taking advantage of current low interest rates for bonds and low prices for labor and asphalt.
said that he remains hopeful that the connector road project may be completely funded under a state Public Works Economic Development grant or with federal funds as a shovel-ready project, which he would continue to pursue. Both require submitting a finished design, which he estimates will cost about $350,000.