The Aquinnah selectmen approved the start of the commercial bay scallop season, appointed members to the new Gay Head Lighthouse committee and set next year’s tax rate at their meeting Tuesday.
Commercial scalloping begins in Menemsha Pond in Aquinnah Dec. 10; the daily limit is two level bushels.
Shellfish constable Brian (Chip) Vanderhoop said there are “lots of scallops, so eat up.”
Hollis Smith, shellfish committee member, said the water is still warm for this time of year and as a result the meats are not extra firm, but scallops are plentiful. He noted the current state of the scallop market — flooded with scallops and fishermen finding little demand. “We were hoping to open a little later and catch a bonus around the holidays and hopefully it will go up, but right now it’s pretty meager,” he said. In other business, the selectmen debated how many people to appoint to a newly-formed Gay Head Lighthouse committee to study the potential move of the historic light in the next few years.
The selectmen reviewed 11 letters of interest for the committee. The 11 applicants are Megan Bodnar, Robin Robinson, Mitzi Pratt, Berta Welch, Liz Witham, Duncan Caldwell, Elise LeBovit, Larry Hohlt, Chris Scott, David Nathans and Adam Wilson.
Selectman Jim Newman proposed appointing an 11-member committee. Selectman Beverly Wright agreed.
But board chairman Spencer Booker said he thought a five-member committee would be more manageable.
In the end, the selectmen voted 2 to 1 to have the 11 applicants meet and select seven members among themselves for the committee.
The selectmen also set the tax rate for 2013 at $4.32 per $1,000 of valuation, a 39 cent increase from last year’s tax rate. Town assessor Angela Cywinski, who presented the proposed rate to the selectmen at a tax rate classification hearing, said the average single-family home assessed value in Aquinnah increased by $8,145, from $1,808,093 to $1,816,238. The average tax bill for this year will therefore increase by about $740, from $7,106 to $7,846.
The selectmen also welcomed new library director Lisa Sherman. Ms. Sherman, who previously worked at the Edgartown library, began three weeks ago.
“Welcome aboard,” Mr. Booker said.
“I’ve had an extremely warm and kind welcome, it’s been great,” she said. “I really look forward to getting to know the community and serving them. It’s wonderful.”