The Tisbury selectmen are pursuing an effort to bring the town department of public works under their control, saying they believe it will better streamline management.

Selectmen last week approved an article for the April 14 town meeting warrant to petition the state legislature to repeal a 1989 special act that created the DPW. Since that year, the department has operated independently under its own elected board of commissioners. The selectmen’s authority over the DPW is confined to negotiating union contracts and hearing union grievances.

Successful passage of the article would set in motion a process intended to place the department entirely under the management of the selectmen.

At a meeting last Wednesday, board members said the decision had been in the works for some time.

“There’s a long history behind it,” selectman and board chairman Jonathan Snyder said, although he did not elaborate.

Selectman Melinda Loberg, participating in the meeting via conference call, noted that the recent Tisbury town visioning process had been one catalyst behind the idea to place the article on the annual town meeting warrant. Concern about better management of town government was one area of concern highlighted during the visioning sessions.

“I think there needs to be a more linear chain of command in town, and I think if nothing else, this starts the discussion. It’s a very unwieldy system,” selectman Tristan Israel said. “It’s a very difficult system to work under, so if we can improve it somehow, that would be great.”

Reached by telephone this week, Mr. Israel said that the department represented a “structural deficiency” and that bringing it under the control of the selectmen would increase both accountability and efficiency within Tisbury.

“I’ve been unhappy with the structure of our government for almost as long as I’ve been a selectman — the disjointed structure,” Mr. Israel said. He said many people in town assume that DPW functions are under the control of the selectmen, which creates confusion.

The Tisbury DPW was created after a 1988 study by the Massachusetts Municipal Authority recommended unifying a group of town departments, including highway, cemetery, parks and recreation and sanitation, under one umbrella.

The water department was initially considered for inclusion in the department of public works, but water commissioners argued at the time that their function was too specialized to be included, and that the department was already being run in an efficient manner.

Voters approved the creation of the DPW at a town meeting in 1989. They also approved the makeup of administration: a five-member elected board. Richard Cayer was the department’s first director. He left in 1993, and Fred LaPiana became director. Mr. LaPiana retired in December 2013. Glenn Mauk has been the director since then.

Selectmen said Wednesday that they had not consulted the DPW on the matter, although Mr. Israel said he had spoken with a couple of the public works commissioners about the possibility. The language for the article came from a discussion between Mr. Israel and town administrator John (Jay) Grande.

DPW commissioner John Thayer, who has been on the board for more than 15 years, told the Gazette Monday that the department tries to have a good working relationship with other town boards, and any change in structure will ultimately be up to voters. “If it’s something they want to do,” he said.

Following the meeting last week, Mr. Israel emphasized that the DPW’s response to the first blizzard of the year, which drew criticism from some Tisbury residents, was not the impetus for the selectmen’s decision.

“This is not an idea that was born out of a blizzard,” Mr. Israel said. “This has been in conversation for many years.”