West Tisbury expects school bill hike

West Tisbury selectmen learned last week that the latest draft budget of the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) would add about $300,000 to the West Tisbury fiscal year 2012 town budget.

The current UIRSD town assessment is $5,562,600. That could increase to $5,814,685 once the contracts with three unions representing school employees are finalized, Richard Knabel, chairman of the selectmen said in a brief report Wednesday.

The increase in the assessment is driven by an increase in the number of students from West Tisbury that attend the West Tisbury School. At the same time, the number of students from Chilmark and Aquinnah has decreased, according to school district officials.

“It is a big hit and somewhat unexpected,” Mr. Knabel, chairman of the selectmen said.

Town accountant Bruce Stone told The Times in a follow up conversation that the town’s FY 2011 assessment for the West Tisbury School is 40 percent of the total town operating budget.

School superintendent James Weiss told The Times, “I expect the final figure to be no more than $252,000 over this year and it could be less. The Up-Island Regional School Committee is still reviewing the budget and will have further adjustments before they finalize the budget.”

The proposed FY 2012 UIRSD budget will be discussed at a public hearing that begins at 5 pm, Monday Dec. 13 in the West Tisbury School.

In other business, Mr. Knabel and selectman Cynthia Mitchell unanimously approved a request of the Police Station Site and Planning Committee to extend its deadline for completing its work from December 31 to February 28, 2011.

Chairman Susan Wasserman in a written request to selectmen said that the committee will hold a public forum on January 11 at Howes House to explain the committee’s process and conclusions regarding the appropriate site for a new station.

After the public hearing the committee will prepare a written report and would be ready to appear before the selectmen at either the February 16 or 23rd selectmen’s meeting, Mrs. Wasserman wrote.

The selectmen also acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) about the possible sharing of state road maintenance responsibilities. Mr. Knabel asked town administrator Jennifer Rand for her reaction to the DOT proposal.

“I think that we should write them a letter saying ‘thank you very much but no’,” Mrs. Rand said. She explained that in her opinion there were problems with both the bidding process being suggested by DOT as well as the reimbursement for work done by the town on behalf of the state.

Mr. Knabel suggested that the selectmen take the issue under advisement.

Mrs. Rand also informed the selectmen of the resignation of Nicole Cabot from the Parks and Recreation Commission. She said that the town will try to find someone to fill Mrs. Cabot’s position until the next election.