Edgartown special town meeting is Oct. 13
Edgartown voters will gather on Thursday, Oct. 13, to take action on a 14-article special town meeting warrant that includes mostly financial housekeeping items, a request to help fund the town's annual fireworks display and the creation of a community preservation committee.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm at the Old Whaling Church.
Peter Bettencourt, Edgartown town administrator, said that most of the warrant articles are housekeeping items that need to be addressed before the end of the calendar year. Many of the spending items will be funded through the town's free cash reserves or the stabilization fund. Mr. Bettencourt said that the state has not yet certified the town's free cash, but he said that the state could certify the amount in time for the special town meeting.
Article one asks voters to appropriate $25,000 for the town's "interest temporary loans" account. Mr. Bettencourt said the town needs to borrow the money to fund town operations until the annual tax bills go out later this month or next month.
Article nine, which asks for $235,000, is the largest spending request on the warrant. According to the article, the money would be added to $95,000 that was appropriated at the 2004 annual town meeting to construct an addition to the fire station on Pease's Point Way. The addition includes two new bathrooms, new closet storage space, and an addition to the existing training/meeting room. According to the article, the money would come from the town's stabilization fund.
Mr. Bettencourt said that when the board of fire engineers began work on the project, they quickly realized that the original $95,000 would not cover all the necessary work, including the required septic upgrades.
The other spending items on the special town meeting warrant are significantly smaller. Article two asks voters for $20,000 to be deposited into the conservation commission's property maintenance fund. They money is needed for work on the Katama Farm property, Mr. Bettencourt said.
Articles three and four ask voters to appropriate a total of $100,000 for the town's wastewater treatment plant. Joe Alosso, wastewater plant superintendent, said that the money is needed to pay for septage that Edgartown treated for the other Island towns.
"We have the ability to treat septage from other towns, and we charge them for that service," explained Mr. Alosso. "Last year, we took in about $250,000 for the extra material, but it cost us about $50,000 to treat that extra septage. That is the money we are seeking in the warrant article."
Article three asks for $50,000 for the extra septage treated in fiscal year 2005, and article four asks for $50,000 for 2006. Mr. Alosso said he plans on building the cost into next year's operating budget.
Article five asks voters to appropriate $9,965 to continue necessary work on the town's enhanced 911 system. According to the warrant, the money would be used for the house numbering account.
Articles six and seven also address public safety issues. Article six asks voters for $10,000 to cover the wages for additional traffic and special officers hired last summer, and article seven asks for $7,500 for salary increases for three officers who completed the EMT training course.
Article eight, another request from the police department, asks for $35,300 to purchase and equip a new unmarked police vehicle. The article also asks voters to authorize the chief of police and the board of selectmen to dispose of the current 2000 Ford Expedition "in the best interest of the town."
Article 13 asks for $25,000 for the annual July 4 fireworks. In the past, the Edgartown Firemen's Association has paid for the fireworks, mostly through fundraising efforts. However, Mr. Bettencourt said that donations in recent years have dropped off, and this year, the association announced that it would not be able to fund next year's fireworks show. In response, the Edgartown Board of Trade (EBT) agreed to take over the organization of the event. Mr. Bettencourt said that the EBT needs money for the fireworks before the end of the year in order to secure a fireworks company. "You have to get in the game early in order to line up a company for July," said Mr. Bettencourt.
The only other spending item on the warrant is article 14, which asks for $32,872 to pay two unpaid bills.
Among the non-spending items, article 12 would establish a town community preservation committee. Edgartown voters adopted the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in the annual town election in April. The CPA is a state program designed to raise money for affordable housing, the preservation of open space, and historic preservation. Towns in the program adopt a three-percent surcharge on real estate taxes, which the state will match 100 percent.
The town will begin collecting money from the CPA after this year's tax bills go out. However, the town cannot spend the money until it adopts a CPA bylaw, which will create the community preservation committee.
According to the warrant, the committee would consist of seven voting members including a person from the following town boards: the conservation commission, the planning board, the historic district commission, the park commission, the resident homesite committee, the financial advisory committee, and one at large member.
The committee would be responsible for assessing the town's community preservation needs and recommending articles for town meeting to spend the CPA funds.
Two other articles ask voters to reconfirm votes taken at the annual town meeting in April 2003 regarding the Pennywise Path affordable housing project. Article 10 asks voters to reconfirm a vote that authorized the town to lift a conservation restriction on a small section of the Pennywise Preserve for a proposed access road into the development. Article 11 asks voters to reconfirm a vote that allowed the town to use a portion of the Pennywise Preserve for the house project, to install a road along the southern boundary of the preserve, and to add a conservation restriction to an adjacent frost pocket.