Tisbury skirts need for budget override  

A computer issue almost put the town in a budgetary pickle. 

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Tisbury was able to avoid needing a budget override. —MV Times

An issue with Microsoft Excel nearly caused Tisbury to request voter permission to borrow a generous amount of money to fund next year’s budget. 

But Tisbury finance director Jon Snyder tells The Times that a “fairly thorough audit” has let them avoid putting a request for an override on the annual town election ballot in June. “It’s a real relief not to have an override,” he said. 

During a Wednesday, April 17, select board meeting, Tisbury officials reviewed the annual town meeting warrant and fiscal year 2025 budget. Snyder presented a budget that would have been more than $42 million. At the time, Snyder revealed a $1.2 million exclusion from a reserve fund that had been erroneously added to the budget, alongside a $279,000 warrant article for the wastewater department that hadn’t been accounted for. 

Snyder told The Times that he thought the $1.2 million reserve fund was a recurring part of the budget when it was not. 

When asked how the town ended up avoiding an override following Wednesday’s meeting, Snyder told The Times that an analysis comparing Tisbury’s proposed budget worksheet with those of an outside database revealed the hidden row in the town’s Excel file with a $1.8 million value. Snyder further explained that the town annually updates the same budget Excel file, and the $1.8 million seems to have been a row from around 10 years ago, although he doesn’t know why it popped up in the program. 

Snyder also said he checked previous budgets, and they did not have the $1.8 million addition, saying that it was a “mystery.” 

Town departments were also able to cut down their budgets, for which Snyder commended the department heads.

“Putting budgets together is always a challenge,” he said. 

Now the town is looking at a fiscal year 2025 budget of $40.338 million, which would be a 3.3 percent increase, compared with the fiscal year 2024 budget of $39.266 million. It’s a smaller increase compared with other towns that have already approved their budgets this year, with Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and West Tisbury all experiencing budget increases over 7 percent. 

When asked where the town was seeing an increase in the budget, Snyder said a lot of it was related to staffing, such as an 8 percent health insurance increase, a 4 percent cost-of-living increase, and pay increases that were mainly over 5 percent. “The cost of a town is mostly employees,” he said, noting half of the budget consisted of salaries and wages. 

Education is one of the biggest slices of the budget pie, according to Snyder, with $9.2 million planned for Tisbury School; the town is expected to contribute $5.4 million toward Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. 

Snyder said the select board will meet this coming week to close the warrant. Tisbury’s annual town meeting will be at the end of May, and the annual town election is in June.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sounds like we all need to be going to our local towns and asking for the budget spreadsheets ask to “unhide” all the rows and columns. Talk about an emperor wears no clothes moment!

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