Tisbury to vote Tuesday on new emergency services facility
Tisbury voters face a decision on whether to construct a new emergency services facility at a special town meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 7 pm at the Tisbury School gymnasium.
In addition to being asked to approve the construction of the $6.8-million emergency services facility (ESF), voters will be asked to pay for other associated costs, such as relocating town hall annex offices currently on the site, connecting the ESF and relocated town hall annex to the town sewer system, and installing two photovoltaic panels on the new ESF.
"I can't urge people enough, who don't normally participate in town meetings or elections, to go to this special town meeting," Tisbury ambulance coordinator Jeffrey Pratt said this week.
ESF warrant articles
The first article on the 20-article special town meeting (STM) warrant asks voters to appropriate the borrowing of funds to construct, equip, and furnish a new ESF on Spring Street across from the Tisbury School.
The $6.8-million figure used in the article is an estimated cost. Bids for the project will be opened tomorrow, November 13, and ESF building committee chairman Joe Tierney said he would provide as accurate a cost as possible to voters next Tuesday.
The approximately 18,500-square-foot multi-agency building will house the town's fire, ambulance, and emergency management services departments.
The vote on the proposed ESF project is the culmination of a long process, begun in August 2005, when an emergency services needs and feasibility study by Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio and Raber Architects concluded too much work and expense would be required to repair the existing fire station, which was built in 1955.
With a goal to combine the fire and ambulance services, it was determined that the one parcel of town-owned land that met the requirements for a new emergency services facility is the current site of the town hall annex.
Voters approved combining the town's fire, ambulance, and emergency management departments and using the town hall annex site at a special town meeting in October 2008.
Currently town hall annex offices on the site include the health department, planning board, and building and zoning office. Plans call for moving the town hall annex operations temporarily to leased trailers at a site on High Point Lane, near the animal control building. Article two asks voters to approve borrowing $115,000 for the relocation costs.
Over last summer and through the fall, the ESF building committee held multiple public hearings with the building's design team from HKT Architects in Somerville and gave presentations about the proposed plans.
The building's design includes "green" energy features such as a solar hot water system and a geothermal heating and cooling system.
Two separate warrant articles offer voters the option of authorizing the town to borrow funds to install one or two photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new ESF, at a cost of $1,000 each.
The borrowing articles on the warrant require corresponding Proposition 2.5 ballot questions on whether to exclude the debt from the tax levy limit. Those questions will be answered on the state's December 8 special election ballot.
Voters also will be asked to approve fund transfers of $27,000 for a new four-wheel drive truck for the water works department and $42,500 to develop a hydraulic model and flushing program for the Tisbury Water Works department. The money would be transferred from funds remaining in a previous appropriation for rehabilitation of water mains in the North William Street area.
Other "housekeeping" articles ask voters to appropriate $26,575 from a town hall window stabilization fund for repairs and restoration of town hall windows; appropriate $4,500 for a new town hall annex copy machine; transfer and appropriate funds for refuse operations; and transfer Community Preservation Act funds for the Lake Street affordable housing project to the Lambert's Cove Road project.
Challenging the school formula
The last warrant article asks voters to authorize the selectmen to file a home rule petition with the state legislature to end the transition phase of the implementation of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (DESE) statutory formula for regional school assessments.
Before the state's new formula was mandated in 2006, Island towns' assessments for the regional high school were based on enrollment. The new formula uses an "aggregate wealth model" for determining required local contribution amounts, with property values and personal income levels given equal weight.
As a result, Tisbury's assessment rose by $314,000, while that for Oak Bluffs decreased by $400,000 that year. The legislation required school districts to use the state's wealth-based formula unless every town in the district concurred on a regional agreement, which the Island towns did not.
DESE officials said that the Island towns' costs would level out after a five-year transition period. The transition period to phase in the formula, 20 percent each year for five years, was designed to ease some of the state's burden in having to provide extra funding to towns that are supposed to be increasing their foundation-level education budgets. With declining state revenues, however, that transition period is projected to take another three to five years.
Since Island towns have consistently met the foundation-level requirement for education spending, the Tisbury selectmen want to petition the state for special legislation to allow the implementation of annual assessments based on what will be in place at the end of the transition period.