Voters took the first steps to ban rental mopeds, agreed to spend money on a variety of projects and paid heartfelt tribute to a retiring moderator at annual town meetings in Edgartown, West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs Tuesday night.

But the pivotal question on whether to build a $46.6 million new school in Tisbury remains undecided and will continue Wednesday, as the town meeting runs to a second night.

West Tisbury poet laureate Emma Young reads her poem, The Time, at annual town meeting. — Albert O. Fischer 3rd

Debate began late on the school article, at around 10:30 p.m., after voters had slogged through a special town meeting warrant.

Opinions were deeply divided. Chief concerns among opponents centered on the hit to the tax rate from the largest capital spending project in recent memory.

“I don't see how we can incur a $47 million expense given our current operating expenses . . . I can't pay this bill,” said Rachel Orr.

But Natalie Munn, a parent of two children in the school, had another view. “It's clear that the building is no longer a place that can serve the needs it needs to serve,” she said.

Lines of people stood to speak at every microphone. At 11:30 p.m. moderator Deborah Medders polled the room and there was a motion to recess.

The meeting will reconvene on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

In Edgartown, 244 voters filled the pews of the Old Whaling Church and the first order of business was to recognize their longtime moderator Jeff Norton who is stepping down after 43 years.

Poet laureate Steve Ewing read a poem dedicated to Mr. Norton; a standing ovation followed and Mr. Norton was presented with a commemorative gavel.

Then it was on to business. A $36.8 million budget was approved and voters moved through a 75-article warrant, approving most articles unanimously.

“You don’t want to talk do you?” Mr. Norton said.

Poet laureate Steve Ewing delivers tribute to retiring moderator Jeff Norton before a packed house Tuesday night. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Later there was some debate over whether to spend $1.2 million to rebuild a World War II-era hangar at the Katama Airfield, a historic grass air strip. In the end the article easily won a needed two-third majority, 175-19.

A $3.7 million spending request for improvements at the Edgartown wastewater facility won approval. Both projects still need approval in the ballot box on Thursday.

The meeting adjourned just before 10:15 p.m. “Thank you Mr. Moderator,” one voter shouted and the entire room stood to cheer one last time for Jeff Norton.

In West Tisbury, poet Laureate Emma Young read her poem, The Time, and retiring police chief Dan Rossi got a standing ovation.

Before an $18.9 million annual budget was approved, finance committee chairman Gary Montrowl urged voters to exercise prudence in new spending. West Tisbury is facing its first override in 14 years this year.

Voters were mostly agreeable but picky at times. They approved $2,500 for the annual town picnic but refused to spend $7,000 to create three new parking spaces at the town hall.

In Oak Bluffs moped rentals may eventually become a thing of the past after voters said yes to a question that will send a home rule petition to the state legislature aimed at allowing the town to ban the rentals. If the petition is approved, the question will return next year for a final vote. There was no discussion. There has been widespread opposition to moped rentals on the Vineyard for decades and the number of rental companies has dwindled in recent years, most of them concentrated in Oak Bluffs.

Earlier in the night voters approved a $30 million town budget amid cautionary words about sustainable future spending. Former town assessor Ron Mechur said the town needs to find new sources for revenue. “We’re all shareholders in this company,” Mr. Mechur said.

A $250,000 request to renovate the harbor master facility on the waterfront and a $350,000 request for roof repairs at the Oak Bluffs School won easy approval. “We need to get ahead of this stuff with our schools,” Bill Engler said, speaking to the school article. “If you call when the roof is leaking, you’re calling too late.”

Steve Auerbach addresses Oak Bluffs town meeting. — Steve Myrick

Later voters also agreed without discussion to spend $600,000 to launch a major improvement project around Sunset Lake. They bogged down briefly over whether to contribute $100,000 to to an affordable housing project in Tisbury, but eventually approved the question, amid many heartfelt expressions about the housing problem on the Island.

There was lengthy and emotional debate over an article seeking $40,000 to go toward a variety of social services. The article was an alternative to a regional request from the county for some $70,000 that would help pay for substance abuse prevention and a number of services for the elderly. Similar requests will come before voters in other towns. But in a year when money is tight, the Oak Bluffs selectmen had rebuffed the article request, deciding instead to put a general request for $40,000 on the warrant. The money can be distrbuted at the discretion of the selectmen. But on the town meeting floor, some argued that the town was shortchanging critically needed services. “I think the selectmen have taken voters’ rights away from us,” said Christine Todd.

In the end the spending was increased when Walter Vail moved to beef up the article with some 23,000 from an earlier article to build beach stairs that had been postponed. The total town contrubution for social services grew to $63,000.

The meeting adjourned shortly before 9:45 p.m.

Sara Brown, Holly Pretsky, Landry Harlan and Jane Seagrave contributed reporting.