Striking a new tone of collaboration, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury selectmen agreed this week to join forces on three initiatives: consolidating spending on human services, building inspections and zoning enforcement and management of Eastville Beach.

Selectmen from the two neighboring towns held a joint meeting in Oak Bluffs Tuesday evening.

“Tisbury and Oak Bluffs share a lot in common,” said Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel. “Because of our locations, because we have the Steamship Authority, because we have a lot of elders, we just share a lot of common demographics.”

Managing Eastville Beach will now be a two-town venture between Oak Bluffs and Tisbury. — Jeanna Shepard

Oak Bluffs selectman Greg Coogan agreed. “We’re so much alike,” he said, “it’s absurd that we work in different directions. We have to recognize the power that we have, because we’re in that unique position. We have large community numbers, we have smaller valuation, so we suffer because we have to pay out more and we get less. If we don’t team up together as one, I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem. We have to flex the muscle a little bit.”

The two boards held an extended discussion about what was described as an unsustainable model of funding human services programs through warrant articles at annual town meetings. Many of the programs are operated by Dukes County and were once funded by the county, but are now paid for entirely with funds appropriated at town meetings.

Selectmen in both towns agreed to send a letter to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the Vineyard Healthcare Access Program, the Center for Living, the Healthy Aging Task Force and Dukes County, asking the agencies to review their programs together and promote efficiency.

“With some shared administrative services and oversight, more conservative budgeting techniques, stricter cost controls and some private fund raising, we are confident that together we can work to provide an adequate municipal subsidy to meet funding gaps,” a draft of the letter reads. “However, without a concerted effort on all our parts, our current model is currently on its way toward failure.”

Oak Bluffs town administrator Bob Whritenour presented an analysis that showed the six Island towns combined pay $1.46 million for various social service programs that come from outside the towns. Under the current formula for allocating costs, Oak Bluffs pays $308,653 for its share of the services, while Tisbury pays $269,410.

“The communities really haven’t had a chance to get deeply involved in their budgeting,” Mr. Whritenour said. “We get the request for a town meeting article, and they’re all very worthwhile purposes, but we’re told just fund this amount, and if you don’t fund it, you’re jeopardizing these important services for all of the Island communities.”

On another issue, the two boards directed their town administrators to work together on a model of shared services for building inspections and zoning enforcement.

Mr. Whritenour suggested the towns explore hiring a single building commissioner who would supervise local inspectors working in each town.

“We have a difficult time attracting a fully certified building commissioner,” Mr. Whritenour said. “We’ve repeatedly done recruitments. We cannot find the type of candidates that possesses the skills.”

“We’re having similar challenges,” said Tisbury town administrator John (Jay) Grande. “The devil is in the details. Shared services is the right way to go, we just need to make sure these people are ready for prime time. I’m anxious to work on it.”

In a third area of agreement, selectmen said they would work on a shared management plan for Eastville Beach to cover maintenance, grading of the parking lot and plantings.

Tisbury owns a small section of the property, while Oak Bluffs owns a larger part of the parcel. Dukes County also owns some of the land.

The next joint meeting will be held in Tisbury on Oct. 17 to assess progress on the three initiatives and discuss other common goals.

In other action Tuesday evening, Oak Bluffs selectmen set Nov. 13 as the date for a special town meeting.

Funding for a new roof for the Oak Bluffs School and several wastewater issues will be among items on the warrant.

Selectmen also approved a significant expansion of last year’s LadyFest, a concert led by female musicians on Martha’s Vineyard organized by the Ritz Cafe.

The board agreed to close Circuit avenue for the event from 6 to 11 p.m. to accommodate a stage set up on the street for outdoor music.

“This is very much in line with what we need to be doing in our community,” said selectman Brian Packish. “We need to be stretching the season, both early in the season and late in the season.”

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20. Proceeds go to benefit Connect to End Violence, a Martha’s Vineyard Community Services program that supports victims of domestic and sexual violence on the Island.