Aquinnah tackling emission-free building code

Aquinnah will be taking on climate change initiatives, among other issues, during the its annual town meeting. — MV Times

Aquinnah will be the last and deciding town on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School budget when they meet for town meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 7 pm.

Two towns have already rejected the high school budget in protest of the MVRHS school committee’s ongoing lawsuit over a synthetic turf field.

But the field and budget isn’t the only topic on Aquinnah’s  32-article warrant.

Tackling climate change will be one of the several articles Aquinnah voters will be deciding on. Town meeting will take place at Aquinnah Town Hall. 

Martha’s Vineyard has a goal of ending fossil fuel use by 2040, a decade before the state’s goal of 2050. All six towns adopted the stretch building code to become green communities. The stretch code is a version of the building code designed to make buildings more energy-efficient. During the town meeting,voters will be voting on two warrant articles that will help Aquinnah toward this climate change mitigation goal. One of them is a “Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration,” which will restrict and prohibit new buildings and substantial renovation projects from being powered by fossil fuels. If voters approve, the prohibition will take effect on January 1, 2024. 

The proposal will also require approval from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. 

The other warrant article is the implementation of the “specialized energy code,” which adds additional guidelines to the stretch code. 

Meanwhile, the town is looking to increase the short-term rental tax from 4 percent to 6 percent and to assess a 2.5 percent administrative fee. 

The majority of the warrant articles included spending and appropriation requests. These included $300,000 for the Aquinnah Community Preservation Committee, $250,000 to paint and make emergency repairs to town buildings, and $73,406.06 to pay outstanding cost overruns for town building projects.

One article will be asking voters permission to raise and appropriate an additional $110,000 in real estate and personal taxes for the up-Island schools’ operations. This article will also need to be approved as a ballot question during the Aquinnah annual town election, which will take place at the Aquinnah town office building on Thursday, May 11, from noon to 8 pm. 

The town is also proposing a $6.4 million budget for fiscal year 2024, which would be a 10-percent increase from the fiscal year 2023 budget of $5.8 million. 

That will include Aquinnah’s $432,432 share of the MVRHS budget. 

Depending on whether voters decide to keep it or to zero it out in protest against the litigation over the school’s athletic field, like in West Tisbury and Chilmark, the MVRHS budget may need to go back to the school committee for further consideration.