Facing a hefty budget override, the town of Aquinnah moved one step closer to outsourcing its paid assistant assessor position on Tuesday with selectmen voting unanimously to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for its assessor services.

The decision comes after the town heard a presentation from the Regional Resource Group two weeks ago, outlining their price model for professional outsourcing and ability to work with the town’s board of assessors. The firm is headquartered in Leominster and gave an all-inclusive price estimate of $38,400 for its outsourcing services. In fiscal year 2020, Aquinnah assistant assessor Angela Cywinski would earn $69,975.

“We are looking this year at a huge override,” said selectman Gary Haley at the meeting. “It’s a huge increase, so we are looking at every line item and trying to cut as much as we can. This assessor outsourcing can save us a huge amount of money if it happens.”

Mr. Haley estimated the budget override in the $400,000 range. He explained that large requests from the school department and the county sheriff’s office, as well as an eight per cent increase in the Tri-Town Ambulance budget have forced the town to explore all of their options to decrease the budget override. The town also has a long history of disputes with the assessor’s department, questioning its taxation of the Baptist Church of Gay Head and overtime compensation.

“What we’re doing is going line to line to try and cut everywhere and anywhere we can,” Mr. Haley said.

The decision to issue the RFP came at the protest of the current assistant assessor, Ms. Cywinski, and a member of the appointed board of assessors, Elise LeBovit. Both argued that it should be the decision of the appointed board of assessors — who oversee the assistant assessor — to issue the RFP.

“We hired our employee, and we would be hiring whatever company would be working for us,” Ms. LeBovit said. “We are the checks and balances for governing this town.”

Selectman and another member of the board of assessors, Adam Wilson, disagreed, saying that they had the authority to issue the RFP and that, if needed, they would consult legal counsel.

Ms. LeBovit also presented selectmen with numbers that questioned the price estimate from Regional Resource Group, while Ms. Cywinski said the effort to outsource the department felt like a personal attack.

“Do you think this is right in what you’re doing?” Ms. Cywinski said. “Basically you are telling an employee that I’m not worth three cents on the tax rate. That’s what you’re going to be saving.”

The selectmen voted to issue the RFP and expect bids to arrive by May 7.

In other business, proponents of a housing bank on Martha’s Vineyard presented two warrant article petitions to town selectmen. The first warrant article would establish an Island-wide housing bank, structured like the Land Bank, to create and preserve year-round housing on the Island. The second would set aside half the revenue from the new short-term rental tax to fund the bank. Both articles are for home-rule petitions.

According to Derrill Bazzy, who presented the petitions on Tuesday, the Aquinnah housing committee has endorsed both petitions under the condition that one third, rather than one half, of the short-term rental tax revenue go toward funding the bank. He also suggested that the town raise the short-term rental tax from four to six per cent, and put the extra two per cent toward the community preservation committee.

“That is our intention,” Mr. Bazzy said. “It would just be a great moment to take that money and let it be a boost...We could actually get some great things done, both on a couple properties in town towards housing, particularly towards things like moving Helen Mays’ house or getting the bathrooms up at the [Aquinnah] circle.”

The housing bank articles will appear on all six town meeting warrants come April.

To form the housing bank, the home-rule petitions would need approval from three of the six Island towns, after which they would then would go to the state for another round of approvals before coming back before the town. The process would take approximately two years.