Martha's Vineyard Commission budget spares two up-Island towns
The $1.3 million final draft fiscal year 2009 budget that the Martha's Vineyard Commission is scheduled to vote on sometime this month includes significant drops in the annual assessments paid by two of the Island's up-Island towns.
Chilmark's assessment will drop from $144,833 to $130,324, while Aquinnah will see a more modest decrease, from $27,394 to $26,769.
Aquinnah and Chilmark's savings translate into assessment hikes for Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury.
The MVC is a regional land use permitting and planning body that holds broad powers to regulate development on the Island. The bulk of the MVC's income comes from Dukes County taxpayers through individual town assessments based on property tax valuation.
Edgartown, the Island's largest town in terms of total property valuation, would see its assessment rise by $28,893, from $247,548 to $276,441.
West Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury face similar hikes in fiscal year (FY) 2009, which begins on July 1, 2008.
Tisbury, already reeling from a change in the regional school formula, will pay an additional $18,290 to cover a hike from $104,223 to $122,513.
The Oak Bluffs assessment would rise from $115,311 to $125,435. West Tisbury's would rise from $105,812 to $114,395.
All seven towns in Dukes County, which includes Gosnold, share the cost of planning, according to their relative equalized property valuation. The regulatory portion of the budget is only divided among the six Island towns, as the MVC's regulatory authority does not apply to Gosnold.
The total of town assessments for FY 2009 is $803,799, a 4.5 percent increase over FY 2008 and a 36 percent increase since FY 2003, which began on July 1, 2002.
The MVC town assessments are included as line items in the individual towns' operating budgets voted on at annual town meeting.
Executive director Mark London said that for several years the MVC was able to limit assessment increases to 2.5 percent, but that was not possible this year. He said the MVC finance committee worked hard to keep increases as low as possible in the draft budget. It is possible that additional refinements will be made prior to a vote by the MVC this month, he said.
The MVC's major expense is payroll. Mr. London said the MVC has ten full-time employees. A table accompanying this story displays MVC employee salaries.
The cost of salaries and benefits including health insurance will total $934,797, a 9.5-percent increase over FY 2008. Health and disability insurance costs will rise by 26 percent, from $134,786 to $173,500.
The draft budget includes a separate accounting for the Island Plan, the ambitious multi-year planning effort launched two years ago and expected to be completed in FY 2009. The Island Plan budget lists $120,000 in costs. Grants, contracts, and gifts will account for $80,000 of that expense, and $40,000 will come from town assessments.