Aquinnah voters gave the final go-ahead Tuesday for the purchase of a new building for the Center for Living to serve Island seniors.

With the other Island towns already debating and approving the article at annual town meetings this spring, there was little discussion in the Island’s smallest town, and the article passed unanimously. All six towns have now authorized Dukes County to issue a bond of up to $1.6 million to buy the former Vineyard Nurses Association building in Vineyard Haven.

A total of 53 voters gathered at Old Town Hall for the annual town meeting Tuesday night. Over the course of two and a half hours, voters approved a $4.1 million annual operating budget and heard an update on town efforts to relocate the Gay Head Light.

The Center for Living building was one of the key issues on the warrant.

“We have an aging population that is in need of these services,” said Center for Living board member June Manning who spoke in support of the center and its supportive day program for seniors, which has been operating for more than 30 years. “It is a great need for our Island elders.”

Elise LeBovit said the supportive day program for seniors was “invaluable” for her mother, and she thanked the center for its service to the community.

Another article requiring Islandwide approval was tabled without discussion. Aquinnah would have been the last town to weigh in on a proposal to spend $3.9 million on a new high school administration building. Any vote would have been largely symbolic, mainly since three towns have already defeated the proposal.

During a short special town meeting that preceded the annual meeting, voters debated the need for a $15,000 space needs assessment for the town hall campus. Selectman Spencer Booker, who serves on the town campus planning committee, said the town hall space has “maxed out,” with files stored at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

Barbara Bassett, a candidate for selectman who the next day lost her bid to unseat incumbent Jim Newman, acknowledged the need for more space, but questioned the need for the study. “I think we have enough common sense to be able to assess it ourselves,” she said. She also favored the idea of building an addition rather than a new building altogether.

Committee member Derrill Bazzy said the goal was to increase efficiency, not necessarily to expand the facilities, and pointed out that any action regarding a new building would require a town meeting vote. The article failed 24-20, well short of a required two-thirds majority.

Just prior to the start of the regular town meeting, voters joined in a standing ovation when moderator Michael Hebert presented Roxanne Ackerman with a plaque in recognition of her 35 years of service to the town. Later in the evening voters also applauded Betty Joslow, who is leaving her post as a trustee of the Aquinnah Public Library.

Members of the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee offered updates on funding and construction for the lighthouse relocation project. With voters approving $60,000 in community preservation act funds on Tuesday, the town reached its initial goal of raising $3 million to restore and relocate the Gay Head Light. But the discovery of an endangered weed this spring and the need to remove lead-contaminated soil took the project about $400,000 over budget. The new fundraising goal is $3.4 million.

“In two years this town, and the whole Island, has rallied together to save this treasure,” said Meg Bodnar, cochairman of the fundraising subcommittee. “It has been unprecedented the way that it has brought everyone together.” She added that an anonymous donor in Aquinnah had given an additional gift of $100,000 leaving $300,000 left to raise. Relocation committee chairman Len Butler described a “beehive of activity” around the lighthouse, with excavators, engineers, archaeologists and film crews on site this week. He also noted a recent visit by Linda Fagan, commander of the first district of the U.S. Coast Guard, who commended the town for its efforts to preserve the historic lighthouse.

The special town meeting saw approval for a total of $27,000 in community preservation funds for stone wall work at the site and a wood-chip walkway leading to the shops at Aquinnah Circle. The six Island towns have contributed about $900,000 in CPA funds to the project.

Mr. Butler said the excavation of a former lightkeeper’s house has revealed a large number of granite blocks that will be used for the project. Unexpected benefits “are just popping out of the ground every day up there,” he said. “It’s going to be quite a thing to see when it’s complete.” The 129-foot move is on track to begin in early June.

Much of the discussion Tuesday focused on the annual budget, which climbed about six per cent this year, due largely to education costs and the Tri-Town Ambulance Service. Michael Stutz, chairman of the board of assessors, noted public concern over rising taxes, and suggested commissioning a study to help the town control the increases.

In response, selectman Jim Newman pointed out that without the education and Tri-Town increases, the overall budget would have stayed almost level. But he didn’t think the town had many options. “These are fixed costs over which we have no control,” Mr. Newman said.

Tri-Town deputy chief Ben Retmier said the increases in his department were due mainly to hiring an additional paramedic and required increases in training and equipment. The town’s assessment for the ambulance service increased about 28 per cent, to $251,920.

Ms. Bassett asked if it was possible for the Tri-Town budget to be divided more proportionally among the three up-Island towns.

“We have discussed it numerous times over the years and it’s just something the other towns are not willing to concede to,” Mr. Newman said. He added that the consensus among member towns was that the cost would continue to be split evenly three ways.

Jim Wallen, a member of the town planning board, argued that the town likely had the financial clout to negotiate a better deal. He assumed that at least some of the increases were due to operational costs and could be changed. “Perhaps the town should be looking into that breakdown,” he said. Mr. Newman agreed.

The elementary school assessment for the town was reduced $30,499 on the town meeting floor, in response to a school district committee meeting last week. The high school assessment was reduced $15,557, making Aquinnah’s total education budget about $1.2 million, still an increase of about $75,000.

The revised annual budget was approved unanimously.

Voters also approved $4,900 to equip a new off-road vehicle that was recently acquired through a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, and $36,500 for a new police cruiser.