Oak Bluffs fixes funding defect two years later

Oak Bluffs voters quickly went through a special town meeting consisting of only two warrant articles. —Eunki Seonwoo

Oak Bluffs fixed a timing defect for funding on major town projects’ during a special town meeting this week, two years after voters had originally approved the borrowing item. 

The two warrant articles asked voters to approve $6.9 million to shore up damages sustained from erosion at East Chop Bluff and $26 million to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment facility. 

Voters initially approved the funding in the April 2022 annual town meeting. But through an error by the town, they missed a deadline to pass the tax increase through a townwide ballot vote. Because of state law, the town was required to pass the override by Sept. 15. It was instead approved during the state election in November 2022. 

On Tuesday evening, 68 Oak Bluffs voters gathered at the town’s elementary school where they swiftly and overwhelmingly approved the warrant articles. 

No discussions were held regarding the warrant articles. At least one audible voter did say, as voters filed in, that they should get the town meeting over with, since it was suppertime. 

Deborah Potter, Oak Bluffs town administrator, told the Times the corrective vote took so long because the town hadn’t started spending money for the projects until recently. She said it was only after the town pursued reimbursements from the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust — from which they received a $4.3 million grant in January, to be used toward the $26 million loan — did the need for the corrections arise. 

Potter said the ballot votes stood on their own. 

Work started in April on Oak Bluffs wastewater treatment facility. The improvements are intended to reduce the flow of nitrogen and other nutrients that can cause algae blooms in Island ponds.

And Tighe & Bond, an engineering consulting firm, is looking into possible options the town could take for the East Chop Bluff restoration project. Consultants told the Oak Bluffs select board in May that work on the project could potentially start in September of next year. 

The town also held a moment of silence in honor of the recently passed Ron Rappaport, the prominent Vineyard attorney who long served as Oak Bluffs’ legal counsel.