School project to cost average taxpayer $738 per year

Finance committee authorizes use of $25,000 for ‘educational’ purposes for Tisbury School renovation.

Tappe's rendering of the southeast view of Tisbury School.

For the first time, Tisbury taxpayers are getting a sense of how much a Tisbury School renovation and addition project will cost them.

At a joint meeting held between the select board, school committee, and finance committee, before the finance committee broke off to its regular business, financial consultant Lynne Welsh offered an average tax bill increase figure for the project. Welsh said using a bond debt service option called “level debt,” which she found the committees were more inclined toward than another option called “Level Principal,” repayment of a $55 million bond debt over 30 years for an $800,000 home (deemed average for Tisbury) would amount to an $738 per year increase on the average property tax bill. That would bring the overall tax bill up to $7,336 per year, finance committee member Allan Rogers told the committees. 

“Level debt, really what it means is throughout the 30 years of the bond issue, principal and interest are fairly constant,” she said. 

As far as overall interest is concerned, level debt will cost about $2 million more than level principal, she noted, $78 million, as opposed to $76 million.

“So it now becomes somewhat of a political discussion, if you will. You know, what’s the appetite of the voters — what would be the reaction of someone seeing $738 for the life of the project versus going to the level principal, when you’re basically asking them to pay upfront … It now becomes a discussion of what you think is palatable to the voters. That’s what we’re basically here to discuss and talk about tonight — what would be the strategy, and why you would go to the voters with one of these funding schedules.”

Finance director Jonathan Snyder pointed out the fiscal impact of the project being considered presently is similar to the original school project done 90 years earlier. 

He described it as “approximately the same proportion to the town’s annual budget as this project is for the current budget.”

After a little more than an hour of deliberation, the joint meeting ended with the committees taking what they’d learned under advisement. 

Meanwhile, Tisbury’s finance committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to authorize the transfer of $25,000 from the town’s reserve fund for use by the Tisbury School Building Committee. The building voted unanimously to request the funds on Jan. 6, and the select board voted unanimously Tuesday night to authorize the request.

Harold Chapdeliane, building committee chair, told his fellow committee members on Jan. 6 that the money was for “voter outreach and education” for the purposes of showcasing the Tisbury School addition and renovation project. The prospective endeavor has an estimated price tag of $53.2 million — $55 million when relocation of students during construction is factored in. 

Massachusetts campaign finance law forbids the use of public resources for political purposes. With that in mind, the select board heard from town counsel David Doneski Tuesday night on whether there was any legal jeopardy in authorizing funds relative to a project that will likely hinge on a ballot vote. Doneski said it would be “permissible” to use funds to inform the public on the progress of a project or “particular details of a project,” however he added that trying to influence voters wasn’t allowed.


  1. WOW…25 grand to call the papers radio and tv if this is an indication of how the school was costed thats interesting MAYBE you could write an in depth issue before TOWN MEETING for the uninformed thanks

    • The town rejected a project that would have come with $14.6 million in state reimbursements. The town has not applied for state funds for this project.

        • Real leadership would have Tisbury and the School Superintendant, re -apply for the funds, write a letter to Baker and do anything to try to get someones attention for assistance. Perseverance and relentlessness often works and to not do it because someone said ”back of the line” is very poor judgment and frankly laziness.

          • Andrew– There are rules you know. We had an opportunity and we blew it. why would anyone think that we should get another chance ? There are other towns and communities that have submitted their applications legally and are patiently waiting their turn to get the money. For Tisbury to jump in line in front of them would be immoral and unfair. Think of the analogy that some migrants want to jump the line for a green card while those who have legally applied have to wait.
            “Real leadership” has a moral base and abides by rules and laws. It doesn’t point fingers, lie, and blame others. A real leader takes responsibility for their failures and tries to improve themselves.
            Perhaps we can re learn that in the next 4 years.

          • Mr Keller your analogy reflects a statist mind set. The proper anaology should be I failed my chemistry class first semester and I will take it again and pass the second time. I dont give up and throw up my hands and I dont believe in a zero sum game. There is no back of the line when dealing with government that always exceeds its spending over its revenue. If you were disqualified from the MV Times would you try again to be re instated?

          • Andrew– let me use your analogy about chemistry class. I failed it the first time. Then I re applied, and the class was full. Should I whine to the administration with the belief that if I cry hard enough and perhaps slip a well placed person some cash, I will be able to get into the class, and some other poor schmuck that i could care less about is denied a spot ? There are only so many slots for the class, whether you believe in zero sum gain or not.
            Is that what morality is about ? Or is that what privilege is about ?
            Do you propose that we just live like seagulls and steal anything we can ?

  2. The town and the school should apply for state funds, It would be malpractice not to do so especially with an incoming Biden administration predisposed to assisting state governments.

  3. If they say the school project will cost average taxpayer $738 per year that really means a extra $850+ per year.
    It is really getting old reading all the negative news about Tisbury especially when it is costing us “big bucks”! &^%$#

  4. Let us not forget what we have already spent.
    Twenty votes sent us down this rabbit hole.
    The only thing I can say is that if we had competent and moral selectpersons a few years back who were honest with us, and if we had bothered to educate ourselves about to the consequences of a “no” vote, we would not be reading this depressing article today.
    In the end, because 21 people did not educate themselves to the reality of what was at stake, or did not bother to vote, we are all going to pay through the nose to put lipstick on a pig.
    If you think your vote doesn’t matter, think again every time you get your tax bill for the next 30 years.
    And let me ask the obvious– Does anyone really think this building is not going to need serious $$$$$’s to keep it safe and secure for the next 30 years ?

  5. Wasn’t there a time that some big wigs donated money to have libraries and schools built? Is there a good sales group out there to contact big rollers like the Bill Gates Foundation, Amazon, or others?
    $53 million is a steep hill and one that will break the backs of many families and yes there is the yearly maintainance plus, plus, plus to contend to ….

Comments are closed.