Capping a months-long battle with their board of assessors, Aquinnah selectmen moved to outsource town assessor services last week.

The selectmen voted last Tuesday to accept a bid from the Leominster firm Regional Resource Group to take over assessing.

The bid came in at $38,400, with about $13,000 worth of optional, add-on services available. The current paid assistant assessor, Angela Cywinski, would have earned $69,975 in fiscal year 2020.

Selectmen have looked to outsource their assessing services for much of the past six months, citing Ms. Cywinski’s use of overtime hours, use of the town off-Island car, the controversial taxing of a historic church, and the town’s already overburdened budget as reasoning for the move.

Members of the town board of assessors, which oversees Ms. Cywinski, were opposed to the outsourcing, saying the financial savings are not worth the loss of a boots-on-the-ground assessor.

The debate has fueled animosity between the two sides, with verbal confrontations at selectmen’s meetings and numerous letters from the board of assessors opposing the decision.

At the meeting Tuesday, selectman and board chairman Juli Vanderhoop read a letter from the assessors that expressed, among other things, confusion about the board’s responsibility with an outsourced assistant assessor, raising concerns that costs would be higher than the $38,400 bid price.

“The decision to outsource by the board of selectmen came with no input from the board of assessors,” the letter read in part. “We do not believe the outsourcing is a viable option for the town currently.”

Selectmen then voted to unanimously accept from the bid from Regional Resource Group, with no discussion. In an email later, town administrator Jeffrey Madison said Regional Resource Group will take over town assessing as soon as a contract is negotiated. Because the town did not allocate funds for Ms. Cywinski’s salary at town meeting this year, she will stop working as of July 1.

Selectmen also moved to appoint Elaine Vanderhoop and selectman Gary Haley to the board of assessors to fill the spots of Elise Lebovit, whose term ends this year, and Marsha Shufrin, who resigned last week amid the outsourcing controversy. In a letter, Ms. Shufrin cited the tension between the two sides as a reason for her departure.

Adam Wilson, who also serves on the board of assessors, resigned from his post as well, citing a future move down-Island in search of year-round housing. Mr. Madison said the town is seeking a third candidate to fill Mr. Wilson’s position.

“We have several people that are interested,” he said.

In other business, selectmen heard from county manager Martina Thornton about a potential contract between the six Island towns and the county that would delineate the procedure for how the county administers social services funded at annual town meetings. The county acts as a middle man between the towns and some nonprofits that are funded with taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Madison said the selectmen had not had time to look over the contract, but he expressed consternation at an additional five per cent fee the county charged towns this year to administer the services.

“Personally, I was chagrined,” Mr. Madison said. “We included a five per cent increase to each of the items for the warrant articles at your request for the upcoming fiscal year. As far as I’m concerned, Aquinnah has done its part. What happens in other towns, is their business. We gave you the extra five per cent. Do the work.”

Ms. Thornton replied that she believes an intermunicipal agreement is necessary so towns are aware of how the county allocates their money. She said she would return when selectmen had time to look over the contract.

Keeper of the Gay Head Light Richard Skidmore requested funding for wifi service at the lighthouse, saying that it would help financial transactions and allow for a future interactive tourist app. Mr. Skidmore said internet services would cost $140 per month.

Selectmen backed the request, and told Mr. Skidmore that he could have a cellular company perform a survey of the grounds for the required wiring.

The board also approved a request from managing director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, Hilary Dreyer, to have a movie showing at the Aquinnah circle. Ms. Dreyer said she had not yet decided on the date or the specific film.

With fire chief Simon Bollin present, selectmen also mulled having fireworks at the Cliffs sometime during the summer — especially with Aquinnah resident Max Batzer no longer having his informal, Fourth of July fireworks celebration. Selectmen felt it would be a good way to draw people to Aquinnah in the evening hours.

“I’ll put this bug in Simon’s ear,” Ms. Vanderhoop said.

“Especially since Max is no longer doing his,” Mr. Madison added.

“You mean the ones that never happened?” police chief Randhi Belain corrected.

“Yes, the ones that never happened,” Ms. Vanderhoop said.