The net increase in the fiscal 2018 (FY2018) budget for Tisbury is about 7.6 percent, according to Jon Snyder, Tisbury finance director. Some department budgets are not yet complete, but, he said, the overall increase, which comes to a little more than $1.9 million, will change little as town officials continue to work on a final budget number, currently targeted at $28 million.
Mr. Snyder discussed on Tuesday the major factors that contributed to the budget increase. Although Mr. Snyder agreed the jump is a big one, he said that running a town responsibly sometimes means spending money.
For example, there was a 20 percent increase in the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School assessment, a total of $741,000. A large part of the increase is because Tisbury has 21 new high school students, whose cost amounts to nearly $478,000. There was a 29 percent increase in debt service, about $475,000, assuming that borrowing begins for construction or renovations of a new school for Tisbury. Tisbury School operating costs increased by 2 percent, or $126,000.
There was a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs in the budget for town employee benefits, amounting to $310,000. Mr. Snyder said that employee benefit costs are primarily health insurance expenses. The town pays 75 percent of the insurance premium for employees and retirees. Over the past decade, that cost has been growing at 10 percent or more each year, so it is putting pressure on all other expenses in the town budget.
The budget for the police department increased by 5 percent, or about $99,000, and the EMT or ambulance budget increased 17 percent, roughly $95,000.
The building maintenance department cost increased by 189 percent, because salaries and expenses that had been recorded in the line items for other departments have been consolidated into the building and maintenance department — about $117,000. The Department of Public Works (DPW) budget decreased because of this consolidation, falling 4 percent, or $64,000.
Dukes County assessments, based on property values and population, increased 5 percent, or about $54,000.