Tisbury government is growing, and at their annual and special town meetings next week voters will be asked to approve the establishment of a human resources department and the position of a full-time director to run it.

The town wants to add two more new jobs too: an administrative secretary for the fire and emergency services department and a second assistant town accountant.

Voters will gather Tuesday at 7 p.m. to conduct the annual business of the town; it will mark the last town meeting in the old Tisbury School gymnasium, which is set to be demolished later this spring as part of the school’s $53 million renovation. Moderator Deborah Medders will preside. There are 30 articles on the annual town meeting warrant and 12 articles on a special town meeting warrant.

In an interview with the Gazette to review the warrant, town treasurer-collector Jon Snyder spoke about the proposal to create a human resources department.

“The town is always been very conservative about adding positions because it’s not just salaries, it’s benefits as well,” said Mr. Snyder, who is the town’s top finance official.

“There is just a significant need for the help,” he continued. “In the town accountant’s case, we’ve had the same number of people for 20 years and the work load is probably 30 per cent higher than it was 20 years ago . . . I think those will be received by the voters favorably.”

While town growth accounts for much of the increased work for accountants, Mr. Snyder said the work itself has changed as well.

“There’s so much more activity on grants and statistics, [and] revenues that have to be accounted for,” he said.

The new human resources department will handle employee recruitment, hiring, training, benefits, leaves, worker’s compensation, labor relations, contract negotiations, affirmative action and diversity programs, according to the warrant.

The HR director will report to town administrator John (Jay) Grande, whose title, in another special meeting warrant article, is being expanded to include personnel director.

Debt service for the school building project has helped swell the town’s 2023 operating budget to $34.4 million — a 13.4 per cent increase over the current year.

Mr. Snyder said he expects the housing bank article to generate plenty of discussion at the meeting.

The town finance and advisory committee voted 4-2 to not recommend the article.

“Everyone supports affordable housing, however, some felt this bill isn’t the solution,” the committee wrote in the voter guide. “The bill being developed at the state level would be more advantageous for Tisbury and easier to plug into. There was concern that the housing bank would mean more [real estate] development in Tisbury, more stress on our services because we are a town with more working families. Concern about deed restriction and creating a two-tiered ownership system. Others thought the housing bank is needed now as a means to intervene in a runaway housing market and this is a good proposal that represents input from across the Island.”

The annual warrant is rife with spending articles, and Mr. Snyder said the town has ample uncommitted funding to cover those that are not covered by budgets or other funds.

But the generally-used term free cash, he said, is a misnomer for what is actually a mix of recent revenues and leftovers from previous town meetings.

“Free cash isn’t cash and it isn’t free,” Mr. Snyder said. “It’s funds that we have already taxed ourselves, but did not end up spending . . . we’ve already raised [it], so it’s less painful to spend it.”

Another source of free cash has been on the rise in recent years, Mr. Snyder said.

“If local receipts come in higher than forecast, then that becomes free cash [and] one place we’ve seen more than anticipated is in the short-term rental tax,” he said. “We’re seeing so much more activity there than we expected that it’s been a boost into our free cash.”

The surplus will allow voters, if they choose, to approve all the spending requests — many of which are for Islandwide social service programs — and still keep some free cash on the books.

“Even at the end of town meeting, after everything’s spent, we try to keep a balance,” Mr. Snyder said.

Other sources of funding on the warrant are the Community Preservation Fund, which is being tapped for a long list of projects such as preserving the Grace Church bell tower ($107,829.00) and numerous regional activities; the Waterways Fund, for harbor department equipment and the Water Enterprise Fund, for the water works department.

Voters also will be asked to divide Tisbury’s $248,519 share of embarkation fees from the Steamship Authority, with $100,000 going toward dredging, $94,250 to the police department, $25,000 for downtown beautification, $23,519 for fire department breathing equipment and $5,750 for the town’s annual membership in the Martha’s Vineyard Law Enforcement Tactical Team.

The town election is not until May 24, unlike other Island towns that go to the polls two days after their town meetings.