Sticker shock for Tisbury residents

Selectmen support boost in recycle fee; new taxi regulations approved.

Mike Mzsanski, vice president of MV Taxi, makes his case to the Tisbury board of selectmen for a metered system. — George Brennan

Tisbury residents will spend twice as much, beginning July 1, to dispose of recyclable waste.

In a 2-1 vote, with selectman Melinda Loberg opposed, the selectmen approved doubling the fee from $125 to $250 per year, after hearing from representatives of Bruno’s Rolloff, the company that provides the curbside pickup. Senior citizens and those who only need a smaller container will pay $170, up from $85.

Loberg supported an alternate plan that would still raise the price of recycling, but not as much, because it would be offset by a hike in what’s charged for a trash sticker.

“This is not a get-rich scheme by Bruno’s,” general manager Josh Forend said. The company is facing greater expense to dispose of recycling because of world markets, and the increase will barely cover those expenses, he said.

“We think recycling is super-important, and we don’t want to see it go away,” he said.

Patrick Medeiros, operations manager for Bruno’s, told The Times in a follow-up interview that the price of disposal has gone up from $20 per ton two years ago to $90 per ton now. “The market has collapsed for recyclables,” he said. The company is barely breaking even on recycling now, Medeiros said.

Ray Tattersall, the town’s DPW director, said the increases may force more people to use the town’s Local Drop-Off, known in the vernacular as the LDO. He also said it may be time for the town to look into privatizing all of its solid waste removal.

Selectmen chairman Tristan Israel suggested the town consider hiring a consultant to help investigate the town’s future options when it comes to trash. “I think we really need to take a global look at everything,” he said.

Finance committee chairman Jeff Kristal, who suggested that the town might want to close the LDO a second day a week to reduce the impact on residents, said his board should be involved in any study of the town’s trash policies.

At the selectmen’s meeting, Medeiros told selectmen he’s been turning away six to 10 customers a day waiting for an answer on the increase. As of Wednesday, the new stickers will be sold to customers, he said.

Taxi regs, yes; meters, not so fast

Selectmen approved new taxi regulations that were vetted by Tisbury Police Lt. Eerik Meisner, but stopped short of approving a plan by M.V. Taxi vice president Michael Mszanski to go to a metered-system of payment for his company.

In a conversation that took more twists than an Island backroad and spun in circles like, well, a taxi meter, the board ultimately requested that taxi companies submit the pros and cons of a metered system to town administrator Jay Grande, who would review them with Meisner, and report back to the board.

“So we understand when we’re approving a fare, it’s a fair fare,” Loberg said.

Selectman Jim Rogers said he’s open to the idea of a metered system. “I’d like to bring some sanity to the taxi fares,” he said.

That’s something Mszanski has pitched as the biggest plus of a metered system — transparency for customers.

Mszanski, who faced a similar situation in Edgartown with that board looking to bring all of the companies together, looked frustrated at times during the Tisbury board’s discussion.

Melaney West, who owns a competing taxi company, Stagecoach, said a customer would be penalized by a metered system in the busy summer months when traffic snarls in places like Five Corners in Vineyard Haven.

MV Taxi’s owner Morgan Reitzas got into an verbal exchange with Israel over why the town would have any more say over a taxi company’s fee structure than it has over other businesses, like restaurants, that are licensed.

Israel said that unlike restaurants, taxi companies use town property to pick up fares.

Cab companies on the Island charge flat fees that are often complicated to figure out.

Selectmen realized during the discussion that they’ve approved annual taxi licenses without ever seeing the fee structure of the companies, which is a requirement. Also on their agenda was approving the licenses of MV Taxi, Atlantic Cab, and Bluefish Taxi. They did approve each of those licenses, but without approving any rate increases.

Instead, the selectmen said each company would have to submit their new rate cards, their current rate cards, and any increases would be considered at the board’s June 12 meeting.

Chief search to cost at least $9,000

Strategic Partners, a West Tisbury consulting firm, will be paid as much as $9,000 to help with the police chief’s search. The town is looking to replace Police Chief Dan Hanavan after not offering him a new three-year contract. The town did sign a one-year deal with Hanavan beginning July 1, which means if his replacement is hired before the end of the year, the town will be on the hook for two chiefs.

Selectmen voted 3-0 to support a contract with the company, which has done other consulting work on the town’s police department. At one point, Grande asked for up to $18,000 so that the company could vet more than one finalist, but the board quickly poured water on that idea.

On the suggestion of Rogers, the board also voted 3-0 to have the consultant search for potential candidates in all six New England states. “Why are we limiting it?” Rogers said to a provision in the contract that had Strategic Partners reaching out to the Massachusetts Chiefs Association.

Expenses for the consultant will be capped at $3,000, Grande said. Anything above that will have to go before selectmen, she said.

In other business, the board agreed to seek a $250,000 grant with Oak Bluffs and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The town will have to come up with about $30,000, MVC executive director Adam Turner said.

The money will be used to install a permeable reactive barrier (PRB), which has proven effective in removing nitrogen from groundwater. It will be installed on Land Bank property near the shellfish hatchery on the Lagoon, Loberg said.

The town will likely need to seek the funding at a town meeting, but Turner said it was important for the board to take a vote, which it did, to support the grant application.

“I think we have a good chance of getting it,” Turner said. “It’s a good grant.”

The board also agreed to seek a $35,000 grant sought by planning board chairman Cheryl Doble. For this grant, the town will have to come up with about $9,000. The money will be used to engineer a surface drainage solution for Lake Street near the landing, Doble said. The town’s portion will come from the DPW budget.

Selectmen got their first look at a proposed food truck regulation, and the initial reaction was that the fee should be increased to make it more competitive with what restaurants pay in annual fees and that meals tax should be worked into the regulations.

While planning board member Ben Robinson said food trucks and restaurants should not be conflated, and even suggested leasing town property to a food truck operator, finance committee member Jeff Kristal urged selectmen to speak with restaurant owners before approving the regs. “Food trucks take away from these restaurants when they’re struggling,” he said.

Selectmen voted 2-0 to send a letter to support Save Our Sound in asking the federal government not to lease Horseshoe Shoal now that Cape Wind is kaput. Loberg abstained because she had not yet seen the letter, and Israel, who proposed it, could not produce the letter at the meeting.

Mary Ellen Larsen will represent Tisbury on the MVRHS school building committee. Superintendent Matt D’Andrea said the 10- to 15-member committee of school committee and town representatives will look at the school’s needs and possible plans.

Israel reminded D’Andrea that money remains a concern for the town. “The towns are different, and what they can afford is different,” Israel said.



  1. hiring a consultant to help investigate, hiring a consultant to help investigate,hiring a consultant to help investigate. Get a life selectmen! Tisbury is the worst run town on the island and it gets more expensive to live here almost daily and you towns people want a Zillion dollar elementary school.
    Makes me sick!

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