In a pair of surprise moves, both of the longtime Martha’s Vineyard representatives on the Steamship Authority Port Council announced Tuesday morning they will not seek reappointment for another term.

Fellow council members expressed astonishment and groped for words after first Bob Huss of Oak Bluffs and then George Balco of Tisbury said they had notified their town select boards that they wished to step down at the end of the year.

“Wow,” said an evidently flabbergasted Nat Lowell, port council member for Nantucket, who has served with both men since they joined the body. “Well, I miss you already. I don’t even know what to say about this.”

The two Vineyard representatives on the council said that they wanted to ease up on commitments, among other reasons for not seeking reappointment. Members are appointed for two-year terms. 

“It’s been 12 years now,” said Mr. Balco. “I’m trying to cut back.”

Mr. Huss said he expects the group’s Dec. 2 meeting to be his last. Mr. Balco said he has offered to stay until Tisbury appoints a new representative to the port council.

The port council is an appointed, seven-member body that advises the boat line’s board of governors. Although the port council’s governing authority is limited, its responsibilities include reviewing the steamship’s budget and advising the ferry service on any activities underway in its port communities, including Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. The body holds monthly meetings, generally two weeks prior to board of governor meetings. 

Appointments to the port council are made by town select boards.

“Anybody we appoint should be attending most, if not all of the authority meetings,” Mr. Balco said. “I will be working with the town on this. It is possible they might not find anybody right away.”

Mr. Lowell had some cautionary words for those who might consider seeking a council appointment.

“Being a member of this group, or a board member, from the islands is a really difficult thing,” Mr. Lowell said. “This year has been the most difficult time I’ve had in the 16 years I’ve been doing this … It’s the constant complaining about stuff that Rob [Ranney, Nantucket representative to the SSA board of governors] and I get.”

Striking a more hopeful note, Mr. Lowell continued, “We can move forward past Covid and come out better. We’ve got a good team here.”

Boat line general manager Robert Davis was similarly surprised at the news both men would not be seeking reappointment, but nonetheless took a moment to thank them for their service.

“Speaking on behalf of the staff, even though I haven’t had the opportunity to query them about it, we would like to show our appreciation … for keeping us on our toes,” Mr. Davis said. “Hopefully, it’s made me a better manager.”

Also Tuesday, the port council voted to recommend the 2021 operating budget and proposed fare increases that will add $1 to passenger tickets, $15 to summer weekend auto fares and a series of other hikes to standard and excursion auto fares and annual parking passes.

The boat line is proposing the increases to make up $8.7 million in lost passenger revenue, treasurer-comptroller Mark Rozum told the council.

A pair of public Zoom sessions for Islanders to learn more about the budget, held last week, attracted about 10 people to each, Mr. Rozum said.

James Malkin, SSA governor for the Vineyard, added that he believed three people attended both.

The Steamship Authority board is expected to vote on the budget and fare hikes at its meeting Nov. 17, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the second floor conference room at the Vineyard Haven terminal building.

Other agenda items the port council recommended Tuesday include a one-year contract extension for the New Bedford-based Seastreak fast ferry, with the addition of inter-island service in the shoulder season when the Hy-Line is not running boats between the Nantucket and the Vineyard.

Council members heard an update by director of marine operations Mark Amundsen on the ferry Eagle, now in dry dock at Thames Shipyard in New London, Conn. for an overhaul, and a progress report on the Woods Hole terminal reconstruction project.

Photos from both presentations are posted with the meeting agenda on the SSA website.

The port council voted to approve proposed opening dates for 2021 vehicle reservations, which are also posted with the agenda, and learned that Mr. Davis is due for his annual review next month.

And Mr. Davis reminded the council that Wednesday is Veterans Day, when veterans and service members are eligible to ride the ferries for free.