The Oak Bluffs selectmen this week got a look at the fiscal year 2013 budget, which totals $24.35 million and emphasizes sustainability and steering the town out of tough financial straits that include a free cash deficit of more than $800,000.

In creating the budget, “we went through the budget bottom up,” said interim town administrator Robert Whritenour. “We looked at every dollar.”

The new budget represents an increase of less than 1.5 per cent, Mr. Whritenour said.

An estimated 80 per cent of the town’s revenues will come from property taxes, with 18 per cent coming from nonproperty tax revenues and two percent coming from state aid, which has dwindled, Mr. Whritenour said.

The budget is based on conservative revenue and spending estimates, he said, with hopes that the town can generate enough excess revenue to erase the free cash deficit.

The town plans to restore several positions that were eliminated or left vacant, including a reference librarian, cemetery maintenance worker, animal control officer, assistant council on aging director, and a part-time position at the solid waste drop-off center. Mr. Whritenour said the budget also includes town shares for regional initiatives, including the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living and the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group.

The budget now goes to the town finance committee, which will meet on Jan. 19.

In what Mr. Whritenour called a “major milestone for this board of selectmen,” the town’s fiscal year tax rate was approved and tax bills were issued on time Jan. 1.

In other business, the selectmen approved James (Chris) Brown’s appointment as a special officer in the police department, which will fill a vacant position, and appointed Bill McGrath as the Oak Bluffs representative to the MVTV board.

There are four final candidates for town administrator; interviews for three of the candidates are set for Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 3:30 p.m.

The finalists are Mr. Whritenour; Anthony Troiano, a consultant who lives in East Sandwich and was formerly a town manager in Hopkinton; John Sanguinet, a former assistant town administrator in Wareham; and Thomas Webb, a former town administrator in Cheshire.

Selectman and board chairman Kathleen Burton said while there is no formal timeline, she expected to reach a decision quickly. “We want to get this done as soon as possible,” she said.