Aquinnah special town meeting moves quickly

Voters consider a range of items, including a Philbin Beach boardwalk.

Aquinnah officials, from left: Town clerk Carolyn Feltz, town moderator Michael Hebert, town administrator Adam Wilson, and selectmen Spencer Booker, Jim Newman, and Julianne Vanderhoop. — Photo by Sam Moore

Aquinnah voters made quick work of a 10-article special town meeting warrant on Tuesday night, approving six articles at a net taxpayer cost of $131,500, principally aimed at improving the visual environment at Aquinnah Circle, improving accessibility to Philbin Town Beach, and making repairs to the town hall and police station.

Voters paused only to discuss the plans to bury 1,000 feet of power lines at the Aquinnah Circle and to install a boardwalk at Philbin Beach.

Three articles were withdrawn on the floor by town officials.

In a 50-minute session attended by nearly 50 residents, voters approved:

  •  $30,000 for repairs to the 30-year-old police department building
  •  $15,000 for structural relocation work on town hall offices to provide more efficient workspace for employees
  •  $3,700 for a new server for the town’s computer system
  •  a total of $47,000 from town Community Preservation Act funds to improve the Aquinnah Circle and to address access issues at Philbin Beach.

Article two, which asked for $2,500 in labor costs to complete the midterm examination of property assessment was tabled after voters had agreed to consider it.

After the meeting, town administrator Adam Wilson noted that 50 percent of the CPA funds are provided by the state, with taxpayers providing the remaining $23,500.

Mr. Wilson withdrew an article proposing to return $59,475 to the general stabilization fund. The funds had been approved at a January special town meeting to cover an expected town budget deficit. Voters on Tuesday night unanimously approved the article based on Mr. Wilson’s explanation that an expected review of town finances by the state Department of Revenue (DOR) has been delayed. He said the deficit issue would be revisited after the DOR completes its findings.

The administrator also withdrew an article asking for $5,000 to purchase a new copying machine. “We don’t have enough money. We’ll just have to get by,” he said.

Selectman Jim Newman tabled an article asking that the town’s board of assessors be appointed rather than elected, as they are now. “I felt that we shouldn’t spring this on the voters at a special town meeting,” he said following the meeting. “We should provide residents with an opportunity to discuss the proposal in depth.”

He said the proposed plan allows the town greater control over the assessing function and does not have any impact on town finances.

Voters did voice opinions on plans, described in two different warrant articles, to bury 1,000 feet of power lines and remove poles at the Aquinnah Circle. The article asked for $21,000 for the project. Proponents, including Conservation and Preservation Committee chairman Derrill Bazzy, argued that power company Eversource Energy’s bid to do the work at cost ($135,000).