A proposal to legalize the sale of beer and wine in restaurants and a request to buy a piece of property for $1.65 million for a new emergency services facility top the warrant for Tisbury's annual town meeting on Tuesday, April 10.
The warrant also carries 14 spending requests to override Proposition 2 1/2, the state-mandated tax cap on property tax levy increases.
Town officials are anticipating a record turnout of voters to the elementary school gym to take up the 35-article warrant. Moderator Deborah Medders will preside over the meeting, which begins at 7:30.
"We are anticipating a large attendance at this town meeting," Ms. Medders told the selectmen on Tuesday night after they reviewed the warrant.
"Legally, one could not have a town meeting unless they could fit all of their registered voters in one space," she added, noting that she is looking into ways of accommodating overflow.
The discussion on whether to petition the legislature for "home rule" - a limited version of liquor licensing - is expected to be the most emotional.
"It is going to be a very impassioned debate, I'm sure," selectman Thomas Pachico said on Tuesday.
The beer and wine licenses would be only for restaurants - including restaurants within inns and hotels - and only with seating capacities of 30 or more. The drinks would only be consumed with a meal, and only to patrons seated at a dining table. The legislation does not permit beer or wine sales at package stores or convenience stores - or permit liquor sales at all.
The town would draft other regulations to define the law after the legislature approved the petition for home rule. The selectmen have consistently stated that drafting the regulations would be a public process. Once complete, the home rule law with all its regulations would go to a ballot vote for final approval by voters.
Voters will also be asked to approve an $18.4 million operating budget for next fiscal year - up 5.15 per cent from this year - and roughly $3.1 million in capital requests at town meeting.
Of that amount, roughly $1.9 million are borrowing articles that will have no tax impact in fiscal year 2008, including the request to purchase five parcels of land for an emergency services facility that would house the fire department and ambulance service.
The parcels total about 1.5 acres on State Road, abutting the Oak Grove cemetery, and would require the town to borrow $1.6 million. The site would also include a piece of unused town cemetery land; the public works department would erect a stone wall to separate the cemetery land from the other property.
Next Tuesday night, the selectmen will hold a public hearing at which the emergency services facility committee will give a presentation on the project's history and how the committee decided on the proposed site. The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Katharine Cornell Theatre on Spring street, then would open up for questions.
A feasibility study in August 2005 concluded that the current fire station on Beach street near Five Corners intersection is not large enough and is in too poor condition for repair or renovation as a fire station. The study projected a building cost range of $3.3 to $4.7 million (2006/2007 dollars) without the cost of land.
If approved by voters, the request would then require ballot approval at town election on April 24, in order to override the state-mandated cap on how much the town can increase its total tax levy in one year, Proposition 2 1/2.
The finance committee asked the board of selectmen to put all capital requests over $10,000 on the override ballot unless they are emergencies - like $30,000 to fund Board of Assessors property revaluations required for this year and $20,000 to repair the Tisbury School fire alarm system, which could otherwise prevent the school from opening in September.
There are 13 other articles beside the land acquisition that would go on override ballot, including requests to borrow $150,000 for a new roof on the Tisbury School gymnasium and $135,000 to purchase and equip a new ambulance for the volunteer ambulance service.
The remaining overrides, totalling $491,000, would raise the tax rate in the next fiscal year by 19.6 cents per $1,000 of property value (based on current valuations, due to change next fall) if they were all approved. The residential property tax rate would be $6.02 and the commercial tax rate would be $9.92 per $1,000 of assessed value.
"People are being asked to make a value judgement on what they think is important or not," selectman chairman Tristan Israel said Tuesday night.
Those value judgements will include $100,000 for the reconstruction of William street from Church street to Woodlawn Avenue; $50,000 to replace the existing sidewalk on William street; $70,000 for exterior repairs and painting of the police station; $50,000 to facilitate getting an easement for a "connector road" between Edgartown and State roads; $40,000 to build a sidewalk on Franklin street from Fairfield Avenue to Holly Tree Lane; $40,000 to dredge the Tashmoo channel; roughly $30,800 to fund Dukes County Regional Housing Authority administrative expenses; $25,000 to continue to fund a long-range disability program; $25,000 for the town employee sick/vacation trust fund to offset unfunded liability; and $25,000 to dredge the inner harbor.
Voters will also be asked whether to make the fire chief a full-time position at an annual salary of $52,805. Since the chief currently receives $17,500, the difference of $35,305 would go on the override ballot if approved.
The town meeting warrant also includes 15 capital requests totalling about $124,000 that would come from the town's unreserved fund balance, or "free cash." Those items include $9,500 to hire, train and equip new police officers; $9,500 for a new copy machine at town hall; $7,500 for the finance director to buy new computer hardware and software; $6,000 to open the library for four hours on Sundays between November and April; roughly $5,000 to pay 15 bills from a prior year; $5,000 to be added to the stabilization fund established for replacing town hall windows; $5,000 for 10 first responder emergency medical bags for the volunteer ambulance service; $5,000 to lease a motorcycle for the police department; $5,000 to pay a municipal hearing officer stipend this year and next fiscal year; $4,000 for a color printer at the Town Hall Annex; $2,500 to provide matching funds the Island-wide drug enforcement grant; and $1,000 for the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council to award grants.
Voters will also be asked to approve more than $97,200 in embarkation fund appropriations, including $41,000 for the police department, $35,000 for the public works department and $21,200 for the ambulance department. The embarkation fund is generated by a portion of ferry ticket fees.
Also on the warrant is the roughly $531,000 in recommended appropriations from this year's Community Preservation Act reserve funds and last year's unreserved funds. The largest appropriations include nearly $150,000 in last year's funds to restore the historic Spring Building on Lake Tashmoo and $150,000 to the Island Affordable Housing Fund construction of four housing units at 150 State Road.
Town meeting will also be asked to approve a sewer enterprise fund budget of roughly $321,000, which will raise $125,000 from taxes.
The warrant also includes a few non-spending articles that will ask voters to:
* Support a citizen's petition to allow the Martha's Vineyard Commission to designate an Island-wide "district of critical planning concern" in regard to energy conservation, with the goal of fostering Island energy independence and reducing the impact of energy use in new or renovated structures.
* Establish a new part-time position of administrative assistant harbormaster.
* Rescind a 2005 special town meeting vote to borrow $600,000 to possibly dig an emergency replacement to a well. The town found it didn't have to replace the well.
* Approve a 3.5 per cent increase to each step in the classification plan for full-time managerial and professional employees, effective July 1.