Oak Bluffs selectmen wrestle with budget cuts, kayaks


Oak Bluffs selectmen agreed Tuesday to create small working groups to study and report on a list of short-term measures to cut the current year operating budget. The target is $300,000 in cuts to fund a town accountant, animal control services, and the cost of replacing town administrator Michael Dutton.

A larger group of town officials met for a budget workshop July 21, and compiled a list of 41 proposals to cut costs or create revenue.

Chairman Kathy Burton said Tuesday she pared those ideas down to a list of budget-cutting measures that could yield immediate savings. The board agreed to form small committees with representatives from selectmen, the finance and advisory committee, and the personnel committee to investigate the ideas, and report back in two weeks with a plan for selectmen to consider.

Selectmen are working toward a September special town meeting at which voters will be asked to trim the current $24.7 million budget.

Also Tuesday, selectmen told Erik Vanlandingham of West Tisbury he could no longer use town property at Big Bridge to launch kayak tours. Mr. Vanlandingham told the board the site is one of six Island locations he uses to launch kayak tours booked through his West Tisbury business. Selectmen asked him to use other locations, until they can research the issue.

“I worry about precedent,” chairman Kathy Burton said. “What about other businesses that are going to come and do business in a very congested area?”

Selectmen got an update from Matthew Brackman, organizer of a triathlon set for Sunday, September 11.

He told the board he already has more than 300 athletes registered to compete in the swimming, biking, and running event, and expects more than 750 people to travel to Martha’s Vineyard for the event.

It will begin at 7 am at Inkwell, with swimmers competing on an ocean course that ends at Alley Park (formerly named Waban Park), where competitors will begin the bicycle leg of the triathlon through Edgartown, West Tisbury, Chilmark, Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs. After returning to Alley Park, the foot race will start along Sea View Avenue, loop around East Chop, and back to Waban Park.

Mr. Brackman said he expects all racers to finish before noon.