A new home for the Center for Living is a big step closer to reality, after the Dukes County Commission voted last week to borrow money to buy the former Vineyard Nursing Association building in Vineyard Haven to house the organization.

Taken at a meeting last Thursday, the unanimous vote allows the county to borrow up $1.6 million for purchase of the building, making necessary improvements, and any costs associated with the transactions.

At annual town meetings this spring, all six Island towns voted to fund the purchase of the building. At the request of county commissioners, the state legislature passed a special petition last fall that authorized the county to issue a bond for the project.

“The county will purchase and manage the building and the towns will finance the debt,” said county manager Martina Thornton.

The Center for Living will be a county department, though all funding will come from the six Island towns, through an inter-municipal agreement.

Ms. Thornton is still working out the final details of that agreement. An advisory board made up of representatives from each town will have oversight for the center’s budget.

Two current full time employees of the Center for Living will become county employees, but all future employees will be hired and work directly for the center, which provides services to elderly residents, including a supportive day program for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Also Thursday, the county commission appointed Gretchen Coleman-Thomas to the county personnel board to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Michael Joyce. She currently serves as chairman of the Oak Bluffs personnel board.

Commissioners agreed to prohibit any commercial activity on county owned or managed beaches, without a permit issued by the county manager. The county sheriff’s department will enforce the new ordinance, as it does other county regulations such as beach parking and litter.

Also approved was a new personnel bylaw which updates the regulations to reflect new laws, and increases the compensation scale from six to 10 steps. Several county employees who had reached to top of the pay scale were no longer eligible for annual step raises of three per cent, but did receive a longevity bonus.

“In the past we had a pay scale that ended at year six, so longevity kicked in year seven,” Ms. Thornton said. “We have adopted a new pay scale that has 10 steps. We put language in the new bylaws that will not allow people to receive step and longevity at the same time.

Those employees will net a larger increase through step raises than longevity pay, according to Ms. Thornton.

The county commission scheduled a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2016 budget, which totals $1.6 million, a decrease of 8.6 per cent from last year.

The hearing will be held June 30, the day before the fiscal year begins. A location has not yet been decided.