The Aquinnah select board approved leases for seven Menemsha lots Tuesday, continuing a rate hike on the lots that began last year.

Rates will increase from $750 to $850. An additional increase to $950 is planned next year.

Town administrator Jeffrey Madison most of the Menemsha tenants did not pay their fees last year, and no one paid in full. Select board member Tom Murphy moved that in order for the renewed leases to take hold, a back payment for last year’s leases must be included.

“I think it’s negligent for the town to sign leases . . . when the leaseholders are in default,” Mr. Murphy said. “It seems to be appropriate that people need to be current in order to sign new leases.”

One tenant, Wendy Swolinsky, said she was unaware the town sought payment last year, after fees were paused in 2020 during the pandemic.

“The reason I didn’t pay is because I didn’t know I had to pay,” Ms. Swolinsky said.

Mr. Madison also updated the board on leases at the Aquinnah Circle. He said the leases the town holds with individuals expired at the end of June, explaining that he wrongfully believed they expired in August.

Mr. Madison expressed concern that the expired leases would trigger a right of first refusal for cliffs lots granted to the tribe at a special town meeting in 2001. But he said he doesn’t think it would be triggered unless current tenants actively give up their leases.

“I’m just making you aware of the situation,” Mr. Madison said.

The board also heard a request from community emergency response team board member Carla Cuch for a new generator at town hall.

“We take this very, very seriously,” Ms. Cuch said, emphasizing that a generator could help when the town hall is used as an emergency shelter. “We want to be set up, we want to be ready,” she said.

Select board member Gary Haley said the existing generator at town hall is shared with the police department and could not service the two buildings.

He said a generator could cost around $10,000.

Ms. Cuch also requested an official budget for the emergency response team, but Mr. Madison said any allocation of funds would have to be approved at town meeting. He said he could add the request to the fall special town meeting warrant.

“That’s the only way we can do it and we can’t do it until then,” the town administrator said.

— Aidan Pollard