With a policy adopted late last year to raise minimum pay to fifteen dollars an hour for all their employees, county leaders have begun a laudable effort to begin to raise the wage standard on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s no secret that the cost of living here is wildly disproportionate to what most people of ordinary means earn in salaries.

But a provision in the county policy that extends to independent contracts is flawed and should be removed. Under that provision, any contractor working for the county would also be required to pay its workers a minimum of fifteen dollars an hour. The wage policy issue is holding up renewal of the county’s longstanding contract with The Trustees of Reservations for managing Norton Point Beach, the narrow ribbon of barrier beach that connects Edgartown to Chappaquiddick on the Mattakesett end of Katama Bay.

The Trustees have been managing Norton Point for the past ten years, and they do an excellent job, hiring biologists to monitor nesting shorebirds and rangers to monitor fishermen and other recreational users of the beach. Beyond Norton Point to the east and northeast, the Trustees also own and manage hundreds of acres at Wasque Reservation and Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, they have a longstanding contract with the state to manage a lengthy stretch of East Beach known as Leland Beach. Managing fragile barrier beaches is their business.

The Norton Point management arrangement is working well and also provides income for the county. Last year the Trustees sent about seventy five thousand dollars into county coffers as a portion of sales from over-sand beach stickers.

As explained recently by Chris Kennedy, longtime superintendent for the Trustees on the Vineyard, the people who work at Norton Point in the summer are part-time employees, many of them older workers who are retired and already living on the Vineyard. Trying to force the Trustees to adopt a new floor for wages simply on the basis of a new internal policy is the wrong move at the wrong time.

The matter is scheduled to be taken up again at a meeting of the county commission on April 6. The contract with the Trustees expires one week earlier, on March 31. Hopefully the seven commissioners will act swiftly to amend the wage policy and move forward with renewing a no-strings three-year contract with the Trustees.

As if we need a reminder, summer is coming.