Without a single dissenting vote, Chilmark voters spent $776,448.20 at a quick special town meeting Monday evening, including appropriations to fund raises for town employees and improvements to Menemsha Harbor. Voters authorized $100,000 in spending from Community Preservation Act (CPA) accounts. The rest came from a surplus of funds, or “free cash,” from the previous budget year.

The special town meeting lasted 15 minutes from the time moderator Everett Poole gaveled the meeting to order, to the moment he declared it dissolved.

The first order of business was an article that would grant the town perpetual rights to use a 1,250 stretch of beach to the west of Squibnocket Beach. The town had already secured a 99-year lease for the three parcels that include the new beach. In exchange, the Squibnocket Farm Homeowners Association will get perpetual rights of way to travel over the parcels to their homes. The homeowners offered perpetual rights instead of the 99-year lease because they were concerned about the rights of way expiring.

Sixteen articles sailed through without a single dissenting vote. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Like all 16 articles on the special town meeting warrant, the beach article passed on a unanimous voice vote.

The town meeting agreed to designate $100,000 in CPA funds, in addition to the $343,000 approved at previous town meetings, to pay for restoration of the town beach at Squibnocket. The managed retreat of the popular beach is the town’s portion of a public/private partnership that includes construction of a raised causeway to provide access to Squibnocket Farm homes.

When it came time to act on articles that involved appropriation of taxpayer funds, one voter questioned why the town was running such a large surplus, in excess of $900,000 according to town officials.

“Generally speaking we like to go into the winter with $200,000 to $300,000 in our reserve funds,” said selectman Warren Doty. “We accumulated it in half a dozen ways. We definitely underspent in half a dozen departments. We had some refunds that came back. It was an unusually high amount of surplus money this year.”

Voters unanimously approved $130,000 to fund raises for town employees. The raises are outlined in a new classification and compensation study also approved at Monday’s special town meeting.

The biggest ticket item on the warrant was a $350,000 appropriation to replace the main electrical system for the commercial fishing bulkhead at Dutcher Dock, and the feed lines to the transient yacht dock. Because of new building codes in effect this year, the town is required to install new switches and equipment in addition to replacing the wiring along the harbor.

In a separate warrant article, voters approved $126,000 to replace 42 pilings in Menemsha Basin.

A total of 102 voters, representing 10.2 per cent of the town’s 998 registered voters, attended the town meeting.