Chilmark selectmen agreed this week to make emergency repairs to the Dutcher Dock in Menemsha, despite severe budget constraints this year.

In a report to the board Tuesday, harbor master Ryan Rossi said bolts that secure the dock to pilings are in extremely poor shape. Saltwater appears to have enter the bolt threads, running from Dutcher Dock along the commercial dock, rusting the three-quarter-inch bolts to “about the size of a toothpick,” Mr. Rossi said.

“We are in danger of the dock caving in,” the harbor master told selectmen. “It becomes an immediate safety concern, not only for people walking along the dock, but with large steel vessels tied to the dock . . . it becomes a real concern that the dock is not going to be able to hang on through more years of storms and constant use.”

The problem became apparent during repair work on the dock this spring after the sea scalloper Martha Rose had collided with the dock, Mr. Rossi said. The rusted bolts were not related to the collision, but were discovered when contractor Offshore Engineering lifted the deck boards to repair the pilings, he said. Damage from the accidental collision cost $15,000.

A cost estimate from John Packer for the bolt work came in at about $43,000, the harbor master said. The work would include rebolting 81 brackets along the 600 feet of dock.

The meeting had been called to review department budget cuts following a recent freeze on all non-essential spending.

But after discussion, selectmen came to the conclusion that the dock repairs are essential.

Selectman Bill Rossi asked if the repairs could wait until fall, when the costs could be put to voters during a special town meeting, instead of the annual town meeting this June.

But selectman James Malkin said due to the safety concerns, the repairs couldn’t wait that long.

“I recognize the $43,000 is a huge amount of money that is unplanned, right when we are talking about needing budget cuts. But knowing this thing could fall down . . . my concern would be if we don’t address it,” Mr. Malkin said.

Mr. Rossi said the repairs could wait until the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. “Waiting until after hurricane season would not be the best idea,” he said.

Selectmen agreed.

“We want to move ahead with this repair,” said selectman Warren Doty. “What we need to do is look at our budgets and see where we can come up with the money.”

Also Tuesday selectmen set June 8 as the date for the annual town meeting and June 10 for the town election. They said the town plans to rent a tent to hold the meeting outside, with a location to be determined.

A scaled-back town meeting warrant was also approved, with 18 articles instead of 28.

“Anything with controversy, needed more work or wasn’t necessary was tabled to the fall,” town administrator Tim Carroll said.