The major debate of the first evening concerned a plan to spend $4 million on road works in town — $2.5 million of it on a new road to connect the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road with State Road.
Voters opted to split the article in two, and overwhelmingly approved spending $1.5 million for the rebuilding or resurfacing of various streets and sidewalks in town. But they bridled at building the connector road, in view of the difficult economic climate. They amended the article to cut out more than $2 million for construction of the connector road, although they approved spending $350,000 for its design.
Edgartown voters marched through a 52-article annual town meeting warrant in just over two hours with only minor debate on a handful of articles. Voters approved a $25.9 million budget for the coming year and agreed to spend money on short-term repairs to the town library. The library vote went against the recommendation of the town finance committee, which had questioned the wisdom of spending money on short-term repairs while the long-term plan for rebuilding the old Carnegie building is increasingly uncertain and without solid financing.
West Tisbury also finished its meeting in one night, approving a $29 million budget and a 45-article warrant in a little under three and a half hours.
Five new special ways were designated with an amendment to zoning bylaws. The amendment passed despite some voter concern about liability for residents with property intersected by the ways. A bylaw to regulate wind turbine construction was rejected as needing more work.
Voters clung fast to their rights, deciding to keep the town clerk an elected post. And a proposal to loosen the rules for secret — or Australian ballot — voting was knocked back for the second year running.
Daniel A. Waters, the town poet laureate, came to the end of his three-year term delivering a final address, a poem which related the West Tisbury winter moth plague to the recent federal economic bailout. The post will be filled by Fan Ogilvie.
Oak Bluffs voters approved a $22.17 million budget along with $770,000 in Community Preservation Act projects, $6 million for the town elementary school and $3.2 million for the town's share of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
The Oak Bluffs meeting resumes tonight at 7 p.m. at the performing arts center of the regional high school. Voters will decide on whether to spend $500,000 to dredge Sengekontacket Pond and new animal control bylaws.
Tuesday's approval of the budget was not without dissent, as members of the town finance committee tried to amend the budget to reduce salaries at the elementary school and regional high school. But school supporters argued against cutting funding for education, and in the end voters agreed.
Voters also approved a 17 per cent raise for town administrator Michael Dutton, increasing his salary from $99,000 to $117,000.
Read the Friday Gazette for complete coverage of annual town meetings and elections.