Edgartown voters will consider 19 warrant articles at a on Tuesday special town meeting. The questions range from new shelves to a new roof for a town building, a change in the quorum bylaw, and additional money for the town's share of educating students at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). The total cost of the requested appropriations is $447,987. The meeting begins at 7 pm at the Old Whaling Church.
While the warrant is unusually large for a special town meeting, most of the appropriations are routine spending and transfers. Many items are left over from a scheduled special town meeting on June 28. That meeting failed to achieve a quorum.
"It's very necessary to get all this stuff done; this is the business of the town," said selectman Art Smadbeck. "Probably most important is to get the money for the assessor's office. That's been hanging."
The $75,000 appropriation requested by the assessors (article 14) is to finish tax revaluation of residential property. The update is required by the state before it will certify the town's value, for the current fiscal year. The funds would come from Edgartown's free cash account.
The quorum necessary to conduct a special town meeting will be among the issues discussed. Article 8 asks voters to amend town bylaws so a minimum of just 100 voters will be required to conduct a town meeting. Currently, five percent of registered voters are required. The current voter count in Edgartown is 2,952. The means 148 voters are needed to open the special town meeting.
Article 4 requests voters to approve a total of $86,446 in additional money for the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School assessment.
"That's money we've already recovered from the state," said Mr. Smadbeck. "We're coming out whole in the end, this year. Next year is another story."
Most of the education money ($86,000) has already been received from the state account popularly know as the "pothole fund." In this case, the money is not to fix streets, but specifically earmarked for towns hit with extra costs because of a new state formula used to decide regional school district assessments to member towns.
The Island's regional agreement has been based on a per-pupil cost, while the state's statutory formula takes into account a town's aggregate real estate wealth, based on its total equalized property valuation, plus a town's contribution from real estate wealth, as well as residents' incomes.
Under Department of Education regulations adopted in January, all member towns must approve an existing regional agreement, while only two-thirds of the towns must approve the statutory formula. Oak Bluffs voted to change from the Island's regional agreement to the state formula instead, as did Aquinnah, so all six Island towns are now required to use the state formula.
If article 4 is approved, it would bring Edgartown's total Martha's Vineyard Regional High School assessment for fiscal year 2008 to $2,878,457.
Another big ticket item is article 13, a request to appropriate $75,000 for roof repairs to the Edgartown School's gymnasium.
The fire chief has submitted a request for $35,112 to increase the hours of paramedic coverage in town.
The smallest request to be considered is $2,675 for archival quality adjustable shelving for long-term storage of town maps and other important records, as required by state and federal laws.
The town financial advisory committee made no recommendation on article 11, submitted by the water commissioners, seeking to transfer $39,760 from the water department's surplus fund for use in making improvements to the town's water system. The improvements would include replacement of water mains, fire hydrants, and service lines.
The advisory committee did not recommend article 9, a request from the cemetery commissioners for $7,500 for tree work, fence repairs, and grass seed at the Westside Cemetery. If approved, the appropriation would transfer money from the sale of lots fund to the general maintenance fund.