One day after Oak Bluffs officials threatened legal action that could lead to demolition, repair work resumed at the deteriorating Island Theater. After a long period of inactivity, a crew of roofers were on the site Wednesday.

Oak Bluffs building inspector Mark Barbadoro told selectmen at their Tuesday meeting he had no faith that the Hall family, which owns the building through a trust, would finish the work.

“I’ve had a lot of complaints about the Island Theater,” Mr. Barbadoro said. “The bottom line, it’s been a very long time. If I don’t see a contractor there, I will have to move forward with the unsafe structure process. I have been trying to work with them, because it’s the easiest and best solution.”

Town officials said they receive complaints about deteriorated state of Island Theater. — Mark Lovewell

The first step in the legal process took place in June when the town posted notices on the building at the foot of Circuit avenue declaring it to be seriously damaged and unsafe to occupy. Brian Hall, and contractors he hired, began repairs within a week, but the job remains unfinished nearly seven months later.

The next step, according to Mr. Barbadoro, is to have the building inspected by an independent structural engineer.

“If it’s unsafe, then we get the lawyers involved and order the building demolished,” he said. Mr. Barbadoro said he anticipates if a demolition order is issued, the matter would wind up in court. The town would have to pay for the cost of an engineer, the cost of any legal action, and the cost of demolishing the building. Mr. Barbadoro said the town could try to recover the costs by placing a lien on the property.

“There are so many people complaining about it, and asking us to get something done,” said selectman Walter Vail.

Mr. Barbadoro said the selectmen have the authority to order a demolition, under less stringent standards than the unsafe building process.

“Selectmen can knock down buildings,” Mr. Barbadoro said. “Your criteria is just urban decay.”

In other action, town administrator Bob Whritenour presented a $28.6 million town operating budget for fiscal year 2017, up 3.3 per cent over the previous year. He said he does not anticipate asking voters for more funding through a Proposition 2 1/2 override. Last year voters authorized a $650,000 override to make ends meet.

“With the growing demand for regional services, especially in the areas of education and elder services, the town has had an extremely difficult time in meeting our service delivery costs within the small amount of new revenues available each year,” Mr. Whritenour wrote in his budget recommendation report.

The town administrator said the town’s proportional cost of educating students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has increased 25 per cent over the previous two years, but is expected to be flat this year. The town’s proportional cost is based on the number of Oak Bluffs students at the school.

The proposed budget includes the addition of an assistant town treasurer, a position that went unfunded when the town ran into financial problems in 2009. It also includes a half-time position in the planning department, promotion of a patrolman to sergeant in the police department, an additional summer laborer in the highway department, and an additional summer laborer in the shellfish department.

Funds from increased building fees are earmarked to hire a full-time building inspector. The budget would also convert part time positions in the library to one new full time position.

Scheduled spending includes a 2.5 per cent cost of living adjustment for town employees.

Mr. Whritenour recommended $188,000 to pay for employee health care benefits, based on an estimate of a 10 per cent increase in health insurance costs.

Also Tuesday, selectmen voted to apply for another round of Community Development Block Grant funding, which provides home repairs and child care subsidies for income qualified residents. Oak Bluffs serves as the lead town for the grant, which also benefits Tisbury residents.

Program manager Melissa Vincent said the fiscal year 2014 grant helped eight households in Oak Bluffs and eight households in Tisbury with energy efficient repairs. A total of 52 children benefited from child care subsidies.

She said the fiscal year 2015 program is just getting underway with 16 more homes slated for repairs, and 52 children scheduled to receive child care subsidies.

Ms. Vincent encouraged home owners and renters to apply for grant funds through her office at The Resource Inc. in Vineyard Haven, or online at town websites. Households who earn 80 per cent of the average median income are eligible.

“Once you’re income qualified, we set up a home visit with a housing rehab specialist and myself,” Ms. Vincent said. “We have five contractors on the Vineyard that bid on our work.”

The grants, which average more than $30,000 per property, come in the form of a 15-year loan, which does not have to be paid back unless the owner sells the home.