Aquinnah takes on electronic voting machines

Voters meet on May 10.

Aquinnah voters will get to decide whether electronic voting machines will be used in the future. — Lucas Thors

Updated May 6

Aquinnah voters head to annual town meeting on Tuesday, May 10, at 6:30 pm at the town hall. 

One item on the warrant article is electronic voting systems, to be used during town meetings. According to the warrant article, $6,000 would need to be transferred from available funds. The Times previously reported that the select board was in favor of the machines, since they would modernize and speed up the voting process while providing anonymity for voters. 

Another article that has gotten attention is whether to establish the Martha’s Vineyard housing bank. The legislation proposes to use a 2 percent transfer fee on the sale of property over $1 million. The housing bank already has all the support it needs from other Island towns to go to the state, but Aquinnah voters will consider the housing bank at both town meeting and at the ballot box.

Voters in the five other Island towns have already voted to support the housing bank, though Tisbury will consider it at their town election later this month. 

Articles concerning up-Island schools will also be considered at town meeting. Voters will vote on whether the town will transfer $7,970 and $23,228 to be paid to the Up-Island Regional School District for Aquinnah’s share of capital projects at both the Chilmark School and West Tisbury School. The collective funds will be used at Chilmark School for costs associated with purchasing and installing an emergency generator, while West Tisbury School will use the funds for costs associated with replacing a portion of its roof. 

Another article seeks $200,000 in Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to fund engineering and schematic design costs related to renovating the town hall and offices and the comfort station at Aquinnah Circle. This measure would also require approval at the ballot box two days later.

David Golden, an associate regional assessor from Regional Resource Group, said this debt exclusion “would translate to 23 cents per $1,000 valuation.” According to Golden, Aquinnah’s average residential property value is $1.6 million, which would result in an average tax increase of $366 property owner. 

Other spending articles include appropriating $35,852 for highway construction or improvements, and $13,003 for the first year of the four-year lease for a hybrid vehicle to be used by the Aquinnah Police Department. 

Meanwhile, voters will consider the proposed budget of $5.8 million for fiscal year 2023, which would be an increase from the fiscal year 2022 budget of $5.6 million. 

Two days after the town meeting, on Thursday, May 12, the Aquinnah town elections will be held at the town hall from noon to 8 pm. While there is no contested select board race, there are two races to keep an eye on. James Glavin will be running against incumbent Gerald Green for the three-year seat on the board of health. Heidi Vanderhoop will be running against incumbents Isaac Taylor and James Mahoney for a three-year term on the planning board, of which there are two available this election. There will also be four questions for voters to address, including the override, a question approving the purchase of a parking voucher system, a nonbinding question concerning Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, and the housing bank question.

Updated with the estimated tax increase in Aquinnah from the $200,000 debt exclusion.