The average Oak Bluffs property tax bill is expected to go up by about $59 next year.
The Oak Bluffs selectmen Tuesday approved a proposed tax rate of $7.71 per $1,000 of valuation, a 32 cent increase from last year’s tax rate.
Principal assessor Dianne Wilson presented the proposed rate to the selectmen at a tax rate classification hearing, with the unanimous recommendation of the board of assessors.
The average single-family home assessment for fiscal year 2013 was $512,308, which is down $14,142 from the previous year’s average of $526,450.
The average tax bill would then increase from about $3,890.47 to $3,949.90.
At the recommendation of the assessors, the town will not grant an open space discount so as not to shift the tax burden to residents, nor will it grant a residential exemption, which they said would shift the tax burden from residents to nonresidents.
Residential property, open space, and commercial, industrial or personal property will all be taxed at the same rate per thousand dollars within each class.
The tax rate is still subject to approval by the state Department of Revenue.
In other business this week, selectmen and planning board members joined an Islandwide discussion about proposed changes to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s checklist for developments of regional impact.
The commission has discussed changes to the checklist, including potentially adding a controversial “community character” item, at two public hearings, with members of the building community and the Edgartown selectmen speaking out about the community character criterion.
A public hearing about the checklist was scheduled to continue Thursday night.
Planning board member John Bradford said that while the checklist did increase the ssze of commercial developments that must go before the commission, the checklist has grown over time. “It’s never been clear to us exactly why these things were added,” he said, calling for more explanation. He also noted the different character of more populated down-Island towns as opposed to more rural up-Island towns.
Selectman Gail Barmakian said she shared those concerns. “One size doesn’t fit all,” she said.
Selectman Michael Santoro said a recent development that came before the commission, Edgartown National Bank’s proposal to convert the Oyster Bar restaurant to a bank, housing and retail space, was frustrating to him.
“I thought it was going to be a great project, with apartments, more retail space” he said. “As I watched that hearing, they just got into everything and anything and it just got very discouraging for the applicant and I don’t blame them for pulling it back . . . they got into way too many issues.”
The bank withdrew the proposal.
Commissioner Fred Hancock. whom the selectmen reappointed as the town representative to the commission Tuesday, said the commission thought the proposal was workable and the applicant withdrew the plan under no pressure from the MVC. He also noted that the commission provides oversight of business district projects that the town does not have jurisdiction over.
He said the commission has not rejected any proposals in the three years he has served.
“They do provide protection that we don’t have in some ways,” Ms. Barmakian agreed.
Planning board member and business owner Mark Wallace reiterated his view that the commission should be required to detail why checklist items have regional impact. He said that while the commission has regional value, some of the checklist items are local issues that can be handled by town boards.
Selectman Greg Coogan proposed regular meetings between commissioners and other town officials to look at what the town could be doing.
Town administrator Robert Whritenour provided a breakdown for an assessment of town damage from Hurricane Sandy, with the town applying for about $13.8 million in recovery.
The majority of the damage—about $8.7 million—was to East Chop Drive, and about $3.9 million of the damage came from damage to the North Bluffs seawall, he said.
Representatives from MEMA and FEMA came to the town on Nov. 15 to review storm damage, and the town is waiting for a determination from the federal government about compensation for repairs.