At a special town meeting last fall, Oak Bluffs voters slashed more than $300,000 from an underfunded budget in light of the town’s financial woes.
A year later officials say the town is on firmer financial footing. Next Tuesday’s special town meeting will focus more on capital investments, including funding for architectural studies for a new public safety building and renovations to town hall as well as designs for a fueling station at the harbor.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Oak Bluffs School.
Town administrator Robert Whritenour, appointed to the job this spring, will begin the meeting by giving an overview of town finances.
In a preview for selectmen last month, Mr. Whritenour went over the highlights: in the last year. The general fund deficit has gone from $434,533 to $115,854, and a free cash deficit of $888,046 is estimated to be cut in half.
But he cautioned that it will take a few years for the town’s finances to fully recover.
The big ticket item before town meeting is $250,000 to finance “extraordinary repairs to municipal buildings” that are described in the town’s capital improvement program. The repairs include $60,000 to replace the police department roof and $35,000 for replacing the town hall roof, $45,000 for structural repairs to the sailing camp, and $35,000 for replacing the town hall HVAC system. Painting and repairing the police department and library exteriors, replacing the library HVAC system and repairing a fire station boiler are also on the list.
At a presentation before the selectmen, capital programs committee vice chairman Bill McGrath said that building maintenance had been deferred because of finances. “We need to catch up,” he said.
Voters will also be asked to appropriate money for future projects: $25,000 for a preliminary architectural study for a new fire, EMS and public safety building. Mr. McGrath said that the town has outgrown the existing fire station that was built in 1980.
Other articles ask for $15,000 for a preliminary study for renovations to the town hall, and $25,000 to pay for design services for a harbor fuel facility and for repair and upgrades to docks and moorings.
Mr. Whritenour said the plan is to go to bid on the project and therefore have information about project cost before April town meeting, which would allow the project to be completed before the 2013 boating season.
Voters will also be asked to transfer $25,000 in Community Preservation Act money for a design program for improvements to Niantic Park, and to appropriate $25,000 to replenish the selectmen’s professional and technical account.
The town will decide whether to rejoin the Dukes County Integrated Pest Management program at a cost of $8,015.
All schools are mandated by the state to have an integrated pest management plan, and the town’s executive summary said that a private contractor would be more expensive than joining the countywide program.
Other items include $15,000 to demolish a building declared a safety hazard at 10 Warwick avenue, with a lien to be filed to recover the town’s costs for the project; the election of a moderator; and $3,475 to pay the previous year’s bills.