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Tisbury town meeting

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Tisbury town meeting crowd on the first of two nights. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

After failing to complete their annual business Tuesday night, a reduced group of 132 Tisbury voters got back to work Wednesday night and finished up a few minutes before the clock struck 10 pm. Their big decision of the evening, which generated very little discussion, was approval of a $23,186,156 operating budget for fiscal year 2015 (FY15), which starts July 1.

The budget is up by $1,706,124, an increase of about 7.9 percent over the FY14 budget of $21,480,032. The increase in spending will require approval of a general override, which would be a permanent change to the town’s tax levy. An override question will appear on the ballot at Tisbury’s elections on May 13 and requires a simple majority.

If the general override is also approved at the polls, the town will be allowed to assess an additional $1,296,084 in real estate and personal property taxes. $1,111,084 would support the town and school operating budgets, and $185,000 would fund capital stabilization funds for the fire, ambulance, and department of public works (DPW).

Heavy rain that pounded the Tisbury School gymnasium roof made it hard for town meeting moderator Deborah Medders and the voters to hear at times. A chill in the air and the gloomy weather did not dampen the voters’ “yes” mood, however, as they approved nearly everything in the 21 articles that remained after Tuesday night’s meeting.

They agreed to a lengthy list of capital appropriations and other new equipment that included a new vehicle for the harbormaster; an alarm system, interior building improvements and new network server for the Vineyard Haven Public Library; a new security system for Tisbury School; and a replacement vehicle to be kept in Woods Hole for use by town officials and personnel.

Voters did not agree to a request submitted by the selectmen to spend $15,000 to improve the temporary parking lot on the site of the old fire station. They voted to table the article in response to a motion made by Len Morris. He suggested the selectmen should come up with a more defined plan for the lot that includes a clear set of options from which voters could choose, including leaving it as open space.

All but one of 15 projects were approved for funding with Community Preservation Fund revenues. Voters rejected a request for $15,000 to continue the Tashmoo Overlook View restoration project, a private undertaking by a committee to explore a “view easement,” that selectman chairman Jeff Kristal described during discussion about it as “nothing but a taking in disguise.”

Attendance on the second annual meeting night was down by 51 voters from the previous night. The 132 attendees represented about 4.1 percent of the town’s 3,207 voters.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the override vote requires a two-thirds majority. A simple majority is needed to pass.

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Town meeting moderator Deborah Medders asked those present if they would like to continue the meeting until Wednesday evening. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Tisbury voters wrapped up special town meeting Tuesday night, but not the annual meeting that followed.

Issues still to be addressed include a $23,186,156 operating budget for fiscal year 2015 (FY15), capital appropriations and new equipment, embarkation fund expenditures, and Community Preservation Act projects.

A total of 183 voters, 83 more than needed for a quorum, turned out to take action on a total of 57 articles on the special and annual town meeting warrants. Town meeting moderator Deborah Medders asked them to return Wednesday night at 7 pm to take up 21 articles left on the annual town meeting warrant.

Voters worked their way through the 22 articles on the special town warrant in a marathon session that lasted about two hours. They kept the momentum going as they tackled several lengthy zoning bylaw changes, as well as a proposal by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to create an Island-wide district of critical planning concern to regulate fertilizer use.

Tisbury town meeting crowd.
Tisbury town meeting crowd.

The voters agreed with all but two of the zoning bylaw changes. They rejected an article that would amend deep lot provisions and tabled another that would restrict accessory structures for property owners in the R-3A district. The vote was unanimous to approve the fertilizer article.

At the conclusion of special town meeting at 9:03 pm, Ms. Medders gave voters a five-minute recess before they went to work on the annual meeting’s 35 articles.

Among the 14 articles voters took action on, they agreed to allow the town to borrow $125,000 for an automated parking fee system at the Park and Ride lot, and approved $60,000 to fund improvements at the Spring Street parking lot and $8,000 for repairs to the chimney and roof of the Tisbury Senior Center.

At 10:05 pm, Ms. Medders asked voters if they would like to recess the meeting until Wednesday night and called for a standing vote. The motion was approved by the weary, 88 to 45.

The 183 meeting attendees represented about 5.7 percent of the town’s 3,207 registered voters.