Martha’s Vineyard Commission approves $1.2 million budget

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) met on Thursday, January 19, and approved a $1,203,266 budget for fiscal year 2013 (FY13) that begins on July 1. The budget reflects an overall increase of $36,000, or 3.1 percent more than FY12.

The bulk of the regional permitting and planning agency’s funding comes from assessments to Dukes County towns, based on equalized property valuations.

FY13 assessments for Island towns and Gosnold will increase by $19,000 to a total of $813,266, which is 2.4 percent more than the current fiscal year. Commissioner Brian Smith of West Tisbury, the MVC clerk/treasurer, said the increase is the first in four years.

Edgartown will once again pay the lion’s share, $298,512, up $11,683 over last year. Aquinnah will pay $30,980, Chilmark $129,376, Oak Bluffs $121,286, Tisbury $118,487, West Tisbury $107,373, and Gosnold $7,252.

Mr. Smith and MVC finance committee (FinCom) members met prior to the meeting and voted unanimously to recommend the draft budget dated November 30 to the full commission without any changes.

During the FinCom discussion, Mr. Smith said the draft budget was sent to the Island towns. The MVC received no feedback from any town boards, other than an invitation from the Edgartown selectmen and the town’s FinCom to discuss the draft MVC budget last week, he said.

Mr. Smith said Edgartown officials only asked about personnel and salaries. The MVC employs an executive director, an administrator, an administrative assistant, a geographic information system coordinator and six planners.

FY12 salaries range from $123,261 for executive director Mark London to $44,860 for an administrative assistant.

The increase in FY13 salaries is about one-tenth of one percent, according to a budget summary by Mr. London. The most significant budget increase is for funding benefits for two additional retirees.

Mr. Smith suggested the committee might want to consider adding additional funds for legal fees, level-funded at $60,000.

“My feeling is that when we developed this budget we didn’t have in mind what legal problems might be coming up and we didn’t incorporate that into what our budget is,” Mr. Smith said. “And we are starting to see those bills; for the round-about, the first one was $16,000.”

The committee took no action on his suggestion.

“If we look at our budget in relation to other agencies on the Island, we should be very proud,” John Breckenridge of Oak Bluffs said. “We’re coming in at numbers after three consecutive years of zero percent,” he added.