Tisbury agrees to put beer and wine question before voters once again
Whether they view the glass half full or half empty, Tisbury voters agreed to authorize the town selectmen to file a home rule petition to allow beer and wine licensing in restaurants and inns.
The vote, 136-109, occurred at a second annual town meeting session Wednesday evening, April 15.
"I always think public debate is good - it was spirited, for sure - and I think it got a little too personal at times," Tisbury selectman Jeffrey Kristal said this week. "But I'm encouraged that at least there is debate, and that the town will have another whole year of being able to debate this in the proper forum, and ultimately have a larger portion of the voters than showed up at town meeting make a decision in the voting booth."
The home rule petition calls for placing the beer and wine question on the next annual town election ballot in 2010. Only a year ago, the town split 50-50 on a similar ballot question, resulting in a recount that confirmed its defeat by two votes.
A total of 263 voters attended Wednesday, compared with 344 on Tuesday. They managed to wrap up the 25 articles left over from the night before, in a two and a half hour marathon session. Voters agreed to almost every funding request, with the exception of an article to raise and appropriate $1.56 million to start a fund for town employees' other post-employment benefits (OPEB). Selectman Tristan Israel suggested studying the issue more.
Over the two nights, voters approved a $20,267,527 million fiscal year 2010 (FY10) operating budget. The total was reduced on town floor by $20,722, with approval of an amendment from Mr. Israel to trim the water department salary line in keeping with salaries paid to Tisbury's full-time managerial and professional employees.
Although a lengthy discussion ensued about Fire Chief John Schilling's stipend, and two amendments were proposed to decrease it, voters rejected the amendments and approved the fire department's budget as proposed, which showed no increase over FY09. (See related story.)
Voters agreed to appropriate $1.2 million from the unreserved fund balance or so-called "free cash" to balance the budget and reduce the tax rate, plus an additional $188,000 from free cash for several articles. Town finance director Tim McLean said that leaves $51,691 in free cash until the end of FY09 on June 30.
Voters also approved an article to allow the town to borrow $1.85 million, of which $350,000 will fund the design for a connector road project between Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road. The remainder, $1.5 million, will fund a five-year program to resurface and rebuild about 20 roads and 14 sidewalks, as well as replacing Tisbury School's traffic warning lights and the Park and Ride lighting fixtures, drainage structures, and signs.