The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has approved a $1.5 million operating budget for fiscal year 2019, with increases adding up to $68,647, or 4.6 per cent over the previous fiscal year.

The Island regional land use and planning commission will seek grants for part of the increase in spending, while increasing assessments to towns by 2.5 per cent, executive director Adam Turner said.

The commission voted to approve the budget at a meeting two weeks ago.

Mr. Turner said the budget increase is fueled by two main factors: salaries and benefits.

“All of our benefits, like health insurance and all those things, increased significantly,” said Mr. Turner. “We had a 15 per cent increase in health care. We had three people retire so our OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) and retirement stuff went up. We have a 2.2 per cent raise for employees.”

Employees will also receive a 1.9 per cent cost of living adjustment in addition to the 2.2 per cent merit raises.

Spending on salaries increased to $867,234, up $33,355, four per cent over the previous year.

OPEB, which is mainly the cost of health insurance premiums for retired workers, increased to $48,233, up $15,867, or 49 per cent from last year to this year. The cost of OPEB for future retirees also increased to $40,500, up $5,000, or 14.1 per cent.

The commission pension plan will provide benefits totalling $138,961 next year, representing an increase of $11,461, or nine per cent.

The agency is providing retirement benefits for five employees. Three of the employees retired last year.

Total payroll costs amount to $1.33 million, up $91,463, or 7.3 per cent over the previous fiscal year.

Administration and operating costs are budgeted to decrease this year. The cost of capital improvements, equipment, insurance, printing, travel and other administrative expenses is budgeted at $209,531, down $22,816, or a 9.8 per cent decrease.

The commission has allotted $40,000 for legal fees, its largest administrative and operating expense. That represents a decrease of $20,000, or 33.3 per cent.

The budget reflects an increase in grants and other income, in order to keep the budget hike to individual towns lower.

“That is very doable,” Mr. Turner said. “We decided that we would do a lot of it ourselves, and that we should front our increases through grants and other things that we do, so we only charge the towns 2.5 per cent. The MVC is shouldering the majority of its increases.”

The MVC budget projects a total of $425,000 of grants, contracts, and gifts for the coming fiscal year, up 31,000, or 7.9 per cent. Interest and other income is projected at $62,000, up $12,000. or 24 per cent from the year before.

Town assessments for the coming year total $1,061,038, an increase of $25,647.