A sprawling annual town meeting in Oak Bluffs drew considerable debate over two nights this week, with voters grappling with issues related to long-term planning, moped safety, the crumbling Island Theatre and a new town hall.

Voters easily approved a $29.3 million budget for the fiscal year, and authorized the transfer of $550,000 from free cash to the town’s stabilization fund, which at least temporarily amounted to about five percent of the total budget — a longstanding goal of the town.

Bill McGrath, chairman of capital programs committee. — Mark Lovewell

A $9.88 million request for a new town hall passed by a show of ballot cards, easily meeting a two-thirds-majority requirement.

Capital programs committee chairman Bill McGrath offered a presentation on the current and proposed town halls, pointing out a long list of problems, including a rotting floor in the main entrance, and inaccessible bathrooms, door handles, stairs and signage.

“Town hall is a mess. It needs to be replaced,” he said to applause.

Former selectman Kerry Scott noted the poor upkeep of the current town hall and questioned whether the new building would be treated any differently.

“I don’t know if I want to support a new town hall if this is how we treat our properties,” she said. “When you are elected to be the steward of our buildings, do that job.”

The project still depends on a debt exclusion to be decided at the annual election on Thursday.

After lengthy debate, voters turned down a request to allocate $200,000 for interior bracing to prevent the historic Island Theatre, owned by the Hall family, from collapsing. An amendment by selectman Walter Vail to use the money to raze the building instead also failed.

Many voiced strong concerns about whether the article represented the best strategy for dealing with the long-neglected building at the foot of Circuit avenue.

“I think we are dithering around here and putting money in the Halls’ pocket with this kind of amendment,” Fred Hancock said. “The building needs to be demolished.”

Irene Bright-Dumm stands together with Oak Bluffs police chief Erik Blake. — Mark Lovewell

Town administrator Robert Whritenour agreed with others that the Hall family was not about to solve the problem on its own, but he urged a more measured approach. “I don’t want our anger to lead us to a decision that is irrevocable,” he said to applause.

Prior to a vote, Ron Mechur suggested rejecting both Mr. Vail’s amendment and the article, so that the town could come back with a better strategy.

 Voters appropriated $100,000 for a new master plan, to update the current plan from 1998.

“Unless we have a master plan, we are trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together without having all the pieces,” Christine Todd said. The article passed unanimously.

Voters approved a total of $470,000 for projects related to expanding the town’s wastewater treatment system, including $350,000 for a comprehensive wastewater management plan. A $400,000 request for planning and design related to improvements at the wastewater treatment plant was tabled, with selectman Gail Barmakian later explaining that the money could be accounted for in the town budget and capital plan instead.

On night two of the town meeting, Oak Bluffs joined every other Island town in adopting a ban on single use plastic bags in checkout lines.

Voters faced two competing plastic bag bylaws — one drafted by the Vineyard Conservation Society and a more lenient alternative drafted by a group of town business owners. Following comments by VCS members and others — and an amendment by VCS to allow businesses do defer for up to three years if they can show hardship — the alternate ban was withdrawn.

Todd Rebello, a town business owner who had helped endorse the alternate bylaw, said the provision for extended deferments was a welcome compromise.

“We do have a few very key businesses in Oak Bluffs that would be affected,” he said of the ban, adding: “I think we have found a good spot that we can all live with.”

The VCS bylaw passed with only one or two dissenting votes.

Mr. McGrath returned Wednesday to present an article asking voters to endorse a proposed education finance reform bill. He said the bill would promote equity among Island towns by changing the way they fund regional education. Instead of paying per student, he said, each town would pay according to property values. Eventually, every town would pay the same amount, creating enormous savings for towns like Oak Bluffs that have relatively lower property values and more kids in school.

Juliette Fay. — Mark Lovewell

“One of the biggest benefits is we can predict from year to year what it’s going to cost us for eduction,” Mr. McGrath said. “So if 12 kids move in to town, we don’t suddenly have a huge spike in the tax rate.”

The article passed by a wide margin, making Oak Bluffs the first town on the Island, and among the first in the state, to join the effort.

Also on Wednesday, voters showed support for revoking the licenses of three moped rental businesses in town, in light of alleged violations of a 2004 bylaw dealing with moped safety. A large majority of voters also showed support for banning moped rentals on Martha’s Vineyard altogether. Both articles were nonbinding.

A series of proposed bylaw amendments were aimed at improving moped safety, including a requirement that rental companies post the maximum operating weights for every models available for rent. The article passed unanimously on Tuesday with no discussion.

A request to rezone a parcel at the corners of Uncas, Circuit and Hiawatha avenues as part of the surrounding commercial district drew considerable debate, with abutters pointing to problems with noise and litter that have resulted from the nearby Barn Bowl and Bistro. Attorney Erik Hammarlund assured voters that the property was “not an extension of the bowling alley” (Robert Sawyer and Barry Reeves own the property and have a share in the bowling alley), but he said it was too soon to know how the property might be used.

The article failed 89-53 to achieve the required two-thirds-majority vote.

Finance committee chairman Jason Balboni had sought to postpone an article asking the town to fund its share of the First Stop information and referral program, but voters insisted that it be brought to a vote. The Oak Bluffs council on aging has argued that the program duplicates its own services and those of the state’s MassOptions website, while others have praised the program as a unique Island service.

“It is the starting point for Island seniors and those who care for them,” said Esther Hopkins, arguing that the services listed through MassOptions are more limited in terms of income eligibility. “All seniors want access to this program.”

The $18,320 request passed by a wide margin.

Oak Bluffs was among three Island towns this week that approved an article asking local police to refrain from using town funds to enforce federal immigration laws. The article was submitted by petition by the community group We Stand Together. Oak Bluffs police chief Erik Blake, along with Irene Bright-Dumm, a representative for We Stand Together, read statements in support of the article, which reaffirms existing practice on the Island.

Mr. Blake said that while his department will assist federal immigration agents if they have an arrest warrant, local officers are not authorized to enforce federal immigration law.

“While I am police chief, we will not be agents of the federal government,” Mr. Blake said.

The article passed unanimously with applause.