Edgartown special meeting on school funding June 28
Edgartown voters will be asked to take up the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School budget at a special town meeting next week. Voters will be asked to approve an increase in the town's 2008 fiscal year assessment in order to bring it into compliance with the state's newly imposed statutory formula for regional school districts.
The special town meeting begins at 7:30 pm Thursday, June 28, in the Old Whaling Church on Main Street. In addition to the school budget, voters will be asked to take action on seven other warrant articles.
Initially selectmen wanted to stick with the old system of calculating town assessments, based on a per pupil cost for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1. That position would have left the town out of compliance with the state's new formula.
The selectmen reconsidered a previous decision not to put the new regional school assessment up for a town meeting vote, after discussing the issue with the regional school committee and the town finance advisory committee (FinCom). They learned that four Island towns must approve the school system's fiscal year 2008 budget by July 1, in order to bring it into compliance with the state's newly imposed statutory formula for regional school districts.
Oak Bluffs and Aquinnah voted for the new formula during the spring round of annual town meetings. Chilmark, West Tisbury and Tisbury did not. At a special town meeting on June 5 West Tisbury approved the new formula, adding $116,000 to the town's assessment.
Chilmark and Tisbury will also consider adopting the new formula in special town meetings next week.
Edgartown voters will be asked to approve an increase of $86,446 in the town's current assessment, bringing the new appropriation to $2,878,457. The town's financial advisory committee has recommended approval of the article, but the selectmen have not been in favor of the new formula.
"We'll wait and see what happens at town meeting, and we'll go from there," selectman chairman Margaret Serpa said Monday.
Voters will also be asked to approve borrowing of $1.5 million by the Martha's Vineyard Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery District to acquire land to expand the facility. The town FinCom did not recommend the article.
Selectman Arthur Smadbeck said FinCom members expressed two concerns at last week's selectmen's meeting about approving the loan request for the refuse district. One was that because Edgartown generates 70 percent of the waste for the district, it would have to pay for 70 percent of the cost of the proposed expansion. The members felt that would be too high, he said.
FinCom members also believed an expansion of the facility on West Tisbury Road may be premature because Oak Bluffs and Tisbury have not decided if they will join the district, Mr. Smadbeck said. The expansion is planned for use by six towns.
Last week Tisbury and Oak Bluffs selectmen decided not to join the district at this time.
Fred Condon, chairman of the Edgartown FinCom, said yesterday the committee didn't have enough information about the proposal to make a recommendation. They are not necessarily opposed to it, he said, but will have a meeting with the refuse district next Wednesday to learn more, so they can have more information for the town meeting.
Another article calls for rescinding a vote taken at the annual town meeting in April to authorize the water department to transfer $39,760 from its surplus account. The money would pay for improvements to the town's water system, including replacing water mains, fire hydrants and water lines. The FinCom recommended approving the article.
Other budget items on the warrant include an appropriation of $110,000 for the board of assessors' valuation update of residential property to meet the state Department of Revenue recerti- fication requirements.
Voters also will be asked to appropriate $12,000 to audit town accounts for next fiscal year and to add $13,000 to a $45,000 miscellaneous building inspector's salary account for the current fiscal year.
Another appropriation request is for $5,640 for eight VHF radios for use by lifeguards and park patrol on South Beach this year.