After a year of fiscal cuts, it was all about the spending at the Oak Bluffs special town meeting Tuesday night, with the town approving $250,000 in repairs to town buildings as well as funding to study a new public safety building, harbor fueling facility and town hall repairs.
The quorum of 100 meeting at the Oak Bluffs school unanimously approved the $250,000 for “extraordinary repairs to municipal buildings.”
Financial committee vice-chair Bill McGrath gave a presentation saying that the town needed to work on deferred maintenance for town buildings. Projects include $60,000 for repairs to the roof of the police department, $45,000 for sailing camp structural repairs; replacing the town hall roof and HVAC system, the library HVAC system, a fire station boiler and exterior painting to the police department and the library.
Selectman Water Vail called attention to the condition of the police department, noting it had been damaged further by Hurricane Sandy.
But spending money to plan future projects faced some opposition. Finance and Advisory Committee member Maura McGroary said she voted against $25,000 for an architectural study of a new fire, EMS and public safety building.
“I don't think we should be borrowing money for studies,” she said. “We're in a great trajectory towards being fiscally in good standing, we're not there yet.”
The idea of borrowing money for a study that would lead to borrowing more money “I think right now is a dangerous thing to do,” she said, and should be addressed at annual town meeting, when there are more voters present.
In the end, the article passed, 45-21.
A $15,000 preliminary architectural study for town hall renovations, $25,000 for designing a harbor fuel facility and repairing docks and moorings, and $25,000 in Community Preservation Funds for Niantic Park improvements were also approved.
After some questions about the logistics of the program, voters opted to join the Dukes County Integrated Pest Management program at a cost of $8,015.
With some dissent, the town approved $15,000 for the demolition of a Warwick Avenue home, with liens placed on the home to cover the cost, and also agreed to pay $3,475 in previous year bills.
At about five after seven, moderator Jesse Law 3rd called the meeting to order, noting that there was a quorum — but there wasn't an American flag for the Pledge of Allegiance. Less than a minute later, selectman chair Kathy Burton walked into the cafeteria/auditorium waving an American flag, to scattered applause, and with the pledge, the meeting got underway.