MVC bill due, special town meeting called
Edgartown voters will convene for a special town meeting next Thursday so the town can tie up some loose ends, most notably the town's share of the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) budget.
Voters will be asked to transfer $274,000 from Edgartown's free cash account to pay the MVC assessment.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 pm, Thursday June 18, at the Old Whaling Church. The warrant contains five articles.
The first article on the warrant addresses the fallout from Edgartown's unhappiness over the size of the town's MVC assessment and the commission's decision to approve an operating budget that included cost of living adjustments at a time when Edgartown was holding the line on town spending and eliminating cost of living adjustments for many town employees.
Town assessments are based on a percentage of equalized property valuation. The next largest MVC assessment to Edgartown's is Chilmark's, at $129,269.
The finance advisory committee, with the support of the board of selectmen, put the regional planning agency's annual assessment on the ballot as an override question in the spring election even as they conceded that the town was legally obligated to pay it.
In the town election on April 16 the vote was 213 yes, 222 no.
"The town, to our surprise, voted not to pay," said Michael Donaroma, chairman of the board of selectmen on Monday. "It's just a wake-up call."
Town frustration with the MVC has frequently spilled into public disputes. Last summer, many in town were miffed at the protracted regulatory process involving a change in MVC permit conditions for the Field Club, a large luxury housing development and tennis club. The developers were required to donate three undeveloped lots within the exclusive development to the town's affordable housing committee. But developers offered instead to pay the town $1.8 million to be used for affordable housing development elsewhere.
The cash-for-lots swap had near universal support among town officials. The MVC eventually approved it, but only, after a contentious month of committee meetings and a public hearing.
Mr. Donaroma, who served on the MVC for ten years before he became a selectmen, described some of the commission's recent actions as arrogant. "They don't like rich people, and they don't like Edgartown, and they're not embarrassed to say it, over and over and over," he said on Monday. He added, however, that he would not support an effort to vote Edgartown out of the MVC's jurisdiction, an action some public officials are discussing.
Financial advisory committee member Larry Mercier, a former selectmen and highway department superintendent, is among those who have raised the issue of leaving the MVC. He said he sees no indication that the commission is heeding the signs of displeasure in Edgartown.