Tisbury tax classification decision put off
In their first meeting of the New Year on Jan. 3, the Tisbury selectmen addressed some town department requests, began preparations for budget hearings, and discussed filling several vacancies on town committees.
The selectmen let slide no hint that they were about to file a lawsuit naming Oak Bluffs, the Martha's Vineyard school district, and Massachusetts' board of education in a dispute over the school funding formula.
Although last week's meeting was supposed to include the continuation of a tax classification hearing from Dec. 4, the hearing was postponed until this Tuesday to allow time to obtain final certification of fiscal year 2008 (FY08) real estate values from the state Department of Revenue.
In town department business, the selectmen approved amending the town's shellfish regulations to increase the annual non-resident family shellfish permit fee from $200 to $300, as recommended by shellfish constable Derek Cimeno.
In response to a request from Joyce Stiles, director of the Council on Aging, the selectmen agreed to appropriate $2,300 from their fiscal year 2008 signage budget to purchase a new sign for the Tisbury Senior Center on Pine Street.
At the suggestion of Selectman Denys Wortman, the selectmen agreed to call for an All-Island Selectmen Committee meeting on Jan. 23 at the Katharine Cornell Theatre to discuss the Island's regional services, budgets, and assessments with invitations sent out to the Dukes County commissioners, Island town administrators, representatives from town finance committees and the Wampanoag Tribe.
The absence of volunteers to serve on two town committees prompted appeals and comments from selectman chairman Tom Pachico and selectman Tristan Israel.
Mr. Pachico said the embarkation fee committee needs two volunteers. The caveat is that applicants not currently be on any other town committee. The embarkation fee committee considers spending requests from town departments for funds received as part of a fifty-cent per person passenger fee designed to mitigate the impacts of ferry service on port communities. Mr. Israel added that the water department charter committee needs one more volunteer.
Noting the difficulty in filling the committee vacancies, Mr. Pachico used the moment to lash out at The Times for past editorial comments and justify the selectmen's view that self-appointment is a prerogative of office. Speaking directly to a Times reporter, he said, "You want to know why the selectmen hold multiple positions, that's why. We advertised both and got little response."
Mr. Pachico's public irritation with The Times reporter present stemmed from previous news and editorial coverage of his self-appointment to the Steamship Authority's port council representative job, over more qualified Tisbury residents.
One year ago without announcement or advertisement, the Tisbury selectmen reappointed Mr. Pachico to his third term and second consecutive full two-year term.
It was the third time Mr. Pachico voted to appoint himself to a position that provided port council members with free lifetime vehicle and passenger passage on Steamship vessels. That policy was changed in November to limit privileges to the term served.
Mr. Pachico, who is employed full-time by the town as its health agent and owns a septic inspection business, has utilized those travel benefits. According to Steamship Authority records Mr. Pachico booked 22 vehicle round-trips in 2006, four of which were on Thursdays when the port council met. In 2007 Mr. Pachico also booked 22 trips, six of which were on Thursdays.
The port council, made up of one representative from each of the boatline's seven member ports, meets once a month in Hyannis or Woods Hole and acts as an advisory panel to the Steamship Authority board members.
The Oak Bluffs appointee and current port council chairman is Robert Huss, a retired computer science professor.