Oak Bluffs School project does not require second vote

Department of Revenue says April 2018 ballot approved debt exclusion.

Oak Bluffs School can make repairs without the need for another vote. Gabrielle Mannino

Funding for improvements to the Oak Bluffs School, approved at the Nov. 13 special town meeting, will not require a second vote for a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion.

The project is for significant improvements to the school’s roof, HVAC system, building controls, and other work to replace obsolete equipment.

The project caused confusion at the special town meeting when voters asked why they needed another vote. Town administrator Robert Whritenour told voters that the project would require a second ballot vote, similar to the town hall project. After speaking with the Department of Revenue, Whritenour said in his administrator’s report, the initial ballot vote in April 2018 was sufficient.

According to the report, the April 2018 town meeting approved the design, while the April 2018 ballot approved the debt exclusion. Bids for the project arrived before the special town meeting. At the special town meeting, voters approved the project with bids that had complete and accurate cost figures.

By contrast, the town hall project was originally approved based on a cost estimate instead of complete cost figures. The estimate was appropriated at town meeting, then a debt exclusion was approved before any bids came in. When additional money was needed after bids came in over budget, a second vote was needed, which failed.