Chilmark: Don’t bank on us

Selectmen won’t support Housing Bank; board ready to bring fire station plans to voters.

Chilmark town administrator Tim Carroll shows selectmen fire and EMS site plans that will be presented at town meeting.

Chilmark has low expectations for the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank heading into town meeting next week.

“As a town, we want to say we support affordable housing, we just don’t support the Housing Bank in its current iteration,” selectman Bill Rossi said at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting.

Chilmark created its own article, which asks voters to allow the selectmen to take a percentage of the funds through the newly expanded short-term rental tax for its Molly Flender Affordable Housing Trust, to be used for a Housing Bank if a Housing Bank ever happens.

After the Housing Bank, which needs a minimum of three towns to be established, was approved in West Tisbury, but failed to get approval in Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and Edgartown. Selectmen were in agreement that a Housing Bank is a good idea, but isn’t quite ready.

“The article we drafted with the finance committee says we support a Housing Bank, but until such time as there is proper governance, proper legal structure, proper language, and a percentage of that money goes to the Molly Flender Trust, then we’re not going anywhere,” selectman Jim Malkin said.

Selectmen also discussed their share of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High feasibility study, which is $49,335.

Selectmen said it makes sense for Chilmark to fund its share of the feasibility study, which needs approval from all six towns, but if approved, the funding wouldn’t happen, because Oak Bluffs voted it down.

“The whole system of requiring all the towns to vote in favor of something … it’s very antiquated,” Rossi said.

Malkin said the town should be looking down the road at a potential change to the regional funding formula and the future costs of replacing the high school.

Malkin cited Oak Bluffs’ frequent frustration with the regional funding formulas, which has that town funding the majority of the high school’s budget. Last week’s town meeting saw Oak Bluffs approve $5 million for their share. By comparison, Chilmark’s share of high school costs for the coming year is $894,813.

To change the regional formula, all six towns would have to agree. Malkin said Oak Bluffs has proposed a formula based on property values instead of one based on enrollment. A formula based on property values would significantly raise the high school costs for Chilmark and Edgartown residents.

“The per-pupil cost to educate a Chilmark student at the high school would be astronomical,” town administrator Tim Carroll said.

In other business, Carroll displayed site plans for a new proposed Fire and EMS building that will be presented at town meeting. Voters must approve the $200,000 site plans at town meeting, and then approve it at the annual town election, for it to pass.

Chilmark’s town meeting is on Monday, April 22, at 6:30. The town election will be Wednesday, April 24. Polls will be open from 12 pm to 8 pm.

Selectmen ended the meeting by entering into executive session to discuss a contract with police.