Edgartown voters will gather Tuesday for annual meeting - $23M sought
Edgartown voters will gather in the Old Whaling Church on Main Street Tuesday at 7:30 pm take up a 68-article annual town meeting warrant and $22,725,132 operating budget for the 2007 fiscal year (FY), which begins on July 1, 2006.
The annual meeting warrant includes several articles related to purchases for town departments, building maintenance, and general bookkeeping. Voters will also be asked to approve a 4.2 percent cost-of-living increase for town employees and a bylaw that would set the amount needed for a quorum at 100 voters.
This week, selectmen made a late addition to the annual warrant under an emergency provision for money for the Edgartown Library. The town will ask voters to approve spending a total of $71,000 to help address a mold problem, remove and repair the basement walls responsible for the mold and shore up the first floor.
The largest increases in the 2007 operating budget are related to education. Total spending on education, $7,395,938 in 2006, will rise by $433,327 to $7,829,265.
A jump in the number of students attending the regional high will result in a jump in the town's assessment from $2,451,798 to $2,698,725.
Spending on the police department will rise from $1,784,690 to $1,969,758 in FY 2007. In total, the town will be asked to spend $3,106,901 on the departments that make up total protection of persons and property.
Voters will be asked to pay a number of regional expenses. The Martha's Vineyard Commission assessment is $247,548, an increase of $16,784, and it will cost $22,000 to belong to the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group.
Voters will not have an opportunity to take up the money taxpayers will be asked to contribute to Dukes County government in 2007 in the form of a county assessment for $252,801. That money comes straight off the top of town revenues.
According to a report from the financial advisory that appears on the opening page of the warrant booklet, the annual operating budget, which includes a 4.2 percent cost-of-living increase for town employees, will increase by 4 percent over FY 2006. "This represents the smallest increase being requested in at least the last five years and is a major reason why no general override is required," said the report.
Town finances continue to be strong in terms of reserves, according to a report from town administrator Pamela Dolby. Free cash certified by the state Department of revenue stood at $1,197,724 and the stabilization fund contains $1.4 million.
Voters will be asked to answer 13 proposition 2.5 override questions at town meeting and at the polls when they elect town officers on Thursday. Unlike a general override, which raises the levy limit by which taxes are calculated and raises taxes permanently, all of the questions are related to capital projects or debt and result in temporary tax increases.
The largest override spending question is a request to borrow $1,500,000 for the construction of a new public water supply well near Pennywise Path. The other big-ticket item is a request for $465,000 to purchase a new fire truck to replace a 1978 Ford pumper truck.
Also on the vehicle wish list is a new truck for the shellfish department, with a price tag of $36,250, to replace a 1999 Ford 150 truck.
A request for $230,000 to make significant improvements to the Dark Woods parking lot adjacent to the Triangle has the support of town business leaders and selectmen, said Stuart Fuller, highway superintendent.
Mr. Fuller said the lot is in a state of disrepair and has poor drainage and suffers from a lack of proper lighting. If spending is approved the town would pave the lot and make other improvements to make it more attractive for visitors and residents.
The 100-space lot is promoted as a place where visitors, local business employees, and contractors can park for free. A shuttle bus runs regularly between the lot and the town center.
Additional proposition 2.5 spending requests include: $34,500 for maintenance and repairs to the police station; $223,646 for the dredge program; $279,000 for a bike path along Meshacket Road; and $600,000 approved previously at the 20005 annual town meeting to construct a fire station on Chappaquiddick.
Voters go to the polls between 10 am and 7 pm Thursday. There are few contests on the ballot. David Murphy faces a challenge from Kevin Searle for a seat on the board of health; Incumbent David Blackburn, Richard Fenn and Herbert Foster are the candidates for two seats on the library board of trustees; and Timothy Connelly and Jay Guest will square off in a race for the wastewater treatment commission.
Arthur Smadbeck will run unopposed for a seat on the three-member board of selectmen.