Oak Bluffs voters will be asked to approve nearly $300,000 worth of expenditures from the town's free cash account at a Special Town Meeting (STM) Tuesday.
The 17-article STM warrant includes requests for $111,200 for two separate engineering surveys of the town beach area, salary increases intended to create a more level playing field and a request to use $176,000 in available Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for affordable housing.
The STM begins at 7 pm in the Oak Bluffs School.
Two articles relate to a recently completed compensation and classification study that gathered town employee salary data from towns comparable to Oak Bluffs.
Article 16, an expenditure of $6,992, asks voters to approve salary increases for two non-union employees, effective January 1. The article would fund a raise of $690 per month for the information technology manager, and $475 per month for the town accountant.
"That's an important issue," said selectman Ron DiOrio. "It provides equity and fairness to all town employees. These were the two that were most egregious from the mean."
Article 17 asks voters to accept the compensation study for use in budgeting next year. A plan to phase in implementation of the new salary guidelines will be presented at the spring annual town meeting. The article would not immediately affect the salary of any other town employees.
While he thinks the compensation report should be accepted, selectman Roger Wey voiced concern about how raises will be funded. "I think they'd [the selectmen] have to put it on an override, and I think that would be difficult in this climate," said Mr. Wey, who is also the director of the town Council on Aging. "Every year we have a tight budget, especially with all the increases, health costs, and fixed costs. All these things are mounting up a bit, and I want to be realistic to all the hard-working town employees."
Article 11, a request to use CPA revenue, would pay for renovations to the old town library on Pennacook Avenue. Envisioned are three affordable housing units, and separate retail space. CPA money comes from a surcharge on local property taxes, which is matched by state funds.
Article 12 is the first of two requests for engineering studies of the town's shorefront. The conservation commission wants $65,000 to evaluate the beach, bank, and seawall, and to determine the best way to preserve the beach area.
Article 13, from the board of selectmen, asks for $46,200 to fund studies and drawings for sidewalks, railings, and other improvements proposed in the Sea View Revitalization Concept Master Plan.
"That's going to determine our ability to get grant money, and state and federal money," said Mr. DiOrio.
The entire revitalization project is projected to cost $2.7 million. The amount not funded by grants will be requested at the spring annual town meeting in the form of a bond issue, according to project supporters.
The second article on the warrant asks voters to approve a transfer of $44,000 from free cash to repair and upgrade the kitchen at the Sailing Camp, so that community groups, event organizers, and caterers can use the cooking facilities. The town-owned building is rented for private gatherings.
"The stove doesn't work, the venting is not correct, it needs a dishwasher," said Mr. DiOrio. "The Sailing Camp is such a magnificent piece of property. The repairs are to get the kitchen up to grade. We just need to make it a little more user friendly."
Article 9 calls for $40,000 to replace a failing boiler at the police station with a new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
The town's finance committee voted not to approve only one warrant article and split on another.
Article 5 asks voters to transfer $34,713 from the Ambulance Reserve Fund to purchase a new four-wheel-drive police vehicle. The finance committee split 4 to 4 over the request from the police and fire departments.
The finance committee voted 5-3 against article 8, a request from the police department for $1,400 to buy weapons for the town's public safety patrol boat.
Article 7 also covers the purchase of weapons and equipment for police vehicles. The police department is requesting $11,500 to standardize equipment in all police vehicles, including "helmets, vests, and less lethal munitions."
Article 1 asks voters to transfer $200,000 from the town's free cash account into its stabilization fund. "It's important to have a considerable amount of money in the stabilization fund," said Mr. Wey. "It shows the town's going in the right direction. In case of emergencies the town always has this money, and it takes a two-thirds vote to get it out."