Town meeting season came to a rowdy end on Tuesday, with voters in Aquinnah sparring over everything from salaries to the rising tax rate.

Ongoing tensions in town hall set the pace for the meeting, which spanned more than three and a half hours. A total of 60 voters attended in the Old Town Hall.

A $4.4 million annual budget, an increase of 5.8 per cent over last year, passed by a wide margin, despite concerns over salary increases, including for the fire chief and police chief.

From right, selectman Jim Newman, town administrator Adam Wilson, town counsel Ron Rappaport and moderator Michael Hebert. Mr. Wilson will resign in July. — Mark Lovewell

Debate also centered on the town administrator’s salary, which had been budgeted at $90,431, prior to town administrator Adam Wilson’s resignation last week. Elise LeBovit proposed amending the budget to reduce the salary to $61,000, equal to what it was when Mr. Wilson was hired in 2010. But the amendment failed.

“I think it’s going to take three people to do the job he has done for the last six years,” Len Butler said of Mr. Wilson, whose job includes managing the front desk at town hall and overseeing town boards. “For $60,000 what are you going to get? Not much.” The comments drew applause.

Mr. Wilson said after the meeting that his last day on the job would be July 6.

The budget passed with a handful of dissenting votes, setting the stage for a $110,000 override that squeaked through by a single vote at the town election the following day.

The town meeting came against a backdrop of simmering tensions between town assessors and other officials, including selectmen, with both sides pointing to a failure to communicate and cooperate in regard to town affairs.

Voters had expected to decide whether to shift the board of assessors from elected to appointed positions, but selectmen withdrew the article. Selectman Jim Newman said a required followup vote at the town ballot would have had to wait 60 days, making the request untenable.

“We may or may not revisit it,” he said. “But for the time being it’s off the table.”

In another twist, Mr. Wilson ran against Michael Stutz for a seat on the board of assessors in the town election Wednesday, winning by a vote of 75 to 57.

Since state law prohibits Mr. Wilson from holding elected and appointed positions at the same time, he plans to delay taking his seat as an assessor until he finishes work as town administrator in July.

At the outset of the meeting Tuesday, Mr. Stutz predicted that the tax rate will double by 2026. He said the town should pursue federal funds for reimbursing costs related to federal trust lands and pointed to the high cost of the Tri-Town Ambulance service. He claimed town officials have ignored those concerns over the years. “That explains some of the brouhaha between the assessors and the board of selectmen,” he said.

But finance committee chairman Alan Rugg countered that about 60 per cent of the budget goes toward education, police funding and employee benefits. “There isn’t a great deal of latitude there,” he said. The town finance committee was reformed last year after a hiatus and Mr. Rugg said the committee has been working to get up to speed on town finances.

“The brouhaha makes it a hard place to work some days,” he said. “We don’t need that. We ought to be working together.”

Last town meeting of season saw debate on everything from salaries to the rising tax rate in Island's smallest town. — Mark Lovewell

Voters approved an updated pay scale as recommended by the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, which completed a classification and compensation study for the town this winter. The town personnel committee had slightly modified the recommendations, which the selectmen approved this spring.

Jay MacLeod said he was disappointed that efforts to further amend the recommendations had been ignored by the selectmen in April. He said the changes proposed by town assessor Angela Cywinski would have saved the town money at a time of need.

“In retrospect, it was in poor taste to not consider somebody’s effort on their own time to come up with a plan that saves the town $20,000,” he said.

Other bylaw changes approved on Tuesday clarify that the Friday after Thanksgiving will be considered a holiday, along with Christmas Eve as a half day if it falls on a weekday.

Voters easily approved the changes, along with others related to longevity pay. Employees must now complete 10 years of full-time service instead of seven to begin receiving longevity benefits. People hired before June 30, 2007, will receive slightly higher annual raises, with increases after 10, 15 and 20 years. Personnel committee member Kathy Newman said the changes are in keeping with the new 10-step pay scale.

Following recommendations by the assessors, voters agreed to adopt three provisions of the state general laws, among other things making more seniors eligible for tax credits and exempting value increases for residential home improvements that create elder housing.

On another topic of ongoing debate, voters agreed to ask the Martha’s Vineyard Museum to consider returning the Fresnel lens that once sat atop the Gay Head Light to Aquinnah. Efforts to reclaim the lens have emerged as the museum prepares to relocate to the old marine hospital in Vineyard Haven.

“I don’t think there is any question that the best place to display the lens is in its historic context,” said Mr. Stutz, who has led the effort. But Mr. Newman read aloud a letter from museum board president Stever Aubrey that said the museum intends to follow through with plans to display the lens in a separate building at the Vineyard Haven site.

The museum recently consulted with a lighthouse restoration professional, Mr. Aubrey wrote in the letter. “Based on his report, we have concluded that the lens must be moved only once, and that it must be permanently housed and exhibited under conditions that are carefully controlled at all times,” he wrote. “We will be providing these conditions at the Vineyard Haven . . . campus, the plans for which include the Fresnel lens as a central component.”

Despite some reservations, voters agreed by a wide margin to invite the museum to display the lens near the Gay Head Light instead.

Voters appropriated a total of $97,000 to help restore the Gay Head Light itself, which was moved inland from an eroding cliff in 2015. A total of $65,000 will satisfy a 100 per cent match requirement for a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission related to the restoration. The town lighthouse advisory board, which is overseeing the project, expects a response to its grant application in June.

A request for $23,000 to pay for guardrails around the Circle was withdrawn, since the project would have to wait until after power lines are buried. Planning board member Peter Temple argued that the spending should be approved anyway so the guardrails could go in once the site is ready. But Mr. Butler, who is involved in the efforts, said the site would need to stay clear during the power line burial, and that the former telephone poles could supply the guardrails.

“We are just trying to take some of the burden off the free cash demands,” he said. A motion by public works director Jay Smalley to withdraw the article passed with three dissenting votes.

In waterfront business, voters agreed to spend $20,000 for engineering studies related to a permit for dredging the entrance to the West Basin, where an Army Corps of Engineers dredging project remains stalled after two years. Harbor master Chip Vanderhoop said a pipeline that was left in place has caused shoaling at the site. Some questioned why the town should have to foot the bill, but Mr. Vanderhoop said he believed the cost could be reimbursed.

Voters also took the last step in redrawing the town line along Boathouse Road in Menemsha, agreeing to exchange two new parcels of land with Chilmark. Chilmark voters agreed to the exchange in April.

Regional spending requests included $2,758 for the town’s share of the First Stop information and referral service, and $1,680 for the CORE (Counseling, Outreach and Referrals for the Elderly) program, both managed by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. Both passed unanimously.

Voters also agreed unanimously to allow the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District to borrow up to $2.5 million to expand its central transfer station in Edgartown. All four member towns this year have now approved the request, including Edgartown, West Tisbury and Chilmark. The final vote by Aquinnah is expected to restart a review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission that was paused last year.

Public safety appropriations totaled $50,920, including $44,000 for a new police vehicle and related equipment, and $20,000 to establish a stabilization fund for the replacement of ambulances in the future. In response to concerns about the spending, police chief Randhi Belain said the police vehicle to be replaced was seven years old, although it has not had any serious maintenance issues so far. But he said the request was timely since the town was not pursuing other vehicle purchases this year. The article passed with a few no votes.

Aquinnah joined every other Island town in asking local police to refrain from using town funds to enforce federal immigration law, in keeping with current practice. The community group We Stand Together, which formed after the presidential election last year, had submitted the article by petition in response to federal efforts to crack down on immigration. The article passed unanimously.