Aquinnah voters have much to talk about before their annual town meeting on Tuesday, May 13. There is a race for selectman between the incumbent Karl Burgess and a challenger, Jim Newman, 65, a former educator. Both candidates have a history with the finance committee.
Town moderator Walter Delaney will open the town meeting at 7 p.m. There are 21 articles on the warrant, but don't think that means a short meeting. "It could be a long meeting. There may be some meaningful discussion and I will give everyone an opportunity to talk," Mr. Delaney said this week. A former selectman, Mr. Delaney has been close to the pulse of the town. He has been moderator for 29 years.
"I don't think I have ever shut anyone off. Perhaps I am more liberal than most. People come to town meeting and this is what it is all about," Mr. Delaney said.
Voters will review and consider a line item budget of $2.269 million, up from last year's $2.09 million. Most of the town budgets have been level-funded. The town doesn't have the free cash figure.
The big ticket articles concern regional agencies, the cost of educating children in the regional high school and the regional elementary school system, and expenses of the regional refuse disposal and resource recovery district.
Aquinnah is a small town with 352 registered voters. The cost of government is felt year to year by this group. Mr. Delaney said he expects lively discussion on the budget.
The town meeting quorum is 35 people, and twice that number usually shows up.
Voters will get a second chance to vote on most of the costly items in a June override ballot. That ballot is being prepared this week.
Like other towns, Aquinnah voters are being asked whether to allow the refuse district to borrow upwards of $1.2 million to put towards the closing of the Edgartown and Chilmark landfills.
There is an article calling for the town to pull out from the Martha's Vineyard Commission. Article 19 was submitted by petition.
Within the town's borders, the voters will be asked to appropriate $177,000 toward enlarging and improving the old town hall. Voters will be asked to appropriate $18,783 toward highway construction, a figure to be reimbursed by the state.
A total of $10,000 is being asked for to audit the town books ending June of this year.
New technology may come to the town's public bathrooms at the cliffs. Voters are being asked to spend $3,000 to help in a $13,000 installation of a solar electricity system at the town circle public rest rooms.
The Aquinnah police department is in need of funds to cover overtime and academy costs. Voters are being asked to spend $17,640, of which $11,440 is to cover overtime for relief officers. Last year a full-time police officer moved off-Island. The department wants to spend $2,300 to bring a candidate into the full-time position by sending him to school.
There is a race for selectman and a race for assessor. Karl Burgess is being challenged by Jim Newman, a 65-year-old retired high school reading specialist from New Jersey. Mr. Newman has been coming to the Vineyard for 27 years. He and his wife have lived as property owners in Aquinnah summers for a long time, and he has been a year-round resident of the town for three years. "I want to see the settlement agreement through to completion in the court. I want to bring the town together. I want to get it out of the way, see it to conclusion. Then we need to move on, to be interdependent," he said.
Hugh C. Taylor, candidate for re-election as member of the board of assessors, is being challenged by nearby neighbor Richard Lee. Mr. Lee has a simple campaign slogan. He said if elected he will not need town health insurance. He said that is a cost savings for the town.
Unchallenged incumbents running for re-election include Audrey Jeffers-Mayhew for tax collector, Beverly A. Widdiss for treasurer, Jerry Wiener for board of health, Betty Joslow for library trustee, Berta Welch for planning board and Michael Stutz for membership on the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank Commission.
The election takes place on Wednesday, May 14. Polls will be open at town hall from noon to 6 p.m.