The Tisbury finance and advisory committee (fincom) recommends that voters support borrowing nearly $26 million in additional funds for the school renovation and addition project, which is largely on hold until after the Tuesday, Sept. 20 special town meeting at which the question will be decided.

“I don’t think we have a choice. We really need to go forward with this,” fincom chair Nancy Gilfoy said at the committee’s online meeting on Sept. 7.

The committee’s 7-1 vote came after more than two hours of detailed discussion of the construction project with the Tisbury school committee and the town’s contracted project managers from CHA (Daedalus) and WT Rich Co.

Town administrator Jay Grande and finance director Jon Snyder also took part in the joint meeting, while select board members John Cahill and Roy Cutrer joined without participating. About 30 people in all logged in for the meeting.

Once the school committee adjourned, fincom members deliberated among themselves the benefits and risks of the increased borrowing, which would raise property taxes an additional 5 per cent atop a 10 per cent increase from the $55 million school bond measure approved last year.

“We are too heavily invested as a town. We are already $18 million into this project,” Ms. Gilfoy said, referring to contracts and expenses that followed last year's vote.

“We don’t know that it won’t be just as expensive if we go back and come up with another project,” she added.

Tisbury School alumnus and parent John Oliver said the work is needed urgently.

“I don’t want to see my taxes go up, but it has to happen … and a lot of people are going to be struggling for it,” Mr. Oliver said.

Dan Seidman struck a more skeptical note, saying he believes that good teachers can do their jobs regardless of surroundings.

“If the board supports this, I’ll vote with the board … It’s not necessarily what my personal opinion is. It’s what we as an organization, the fincom, thinks is best for the town,” Mr. Seidman said.

Mary Ellen Larsen, Allan Rogers, Louise Clough, Sarah York, Ms. Gilfoy, Mr. Oliver and Mr. Seidman all voted to recommend the bond measure.

Rachel Orr wept as she cast the sole nay vote, saying the increased taxes were more than she felt Tisbury residents should bear.

“This is hard, because I want the problem solved … and I want us to be able to afford it,” said Ms. Orr, who served as the first chair of the school building committee before resigning a few days before the June 2021 town meeting at which voters approved the initial borrowing article.

“Thirty years, that’s a long time,” she continued, referring to the period over which Tisbury property owners will be repaying the bonds with higher taxes.

“There are so many of us who have so little, and that matters to me,” Ms. Orr said.

The committee’s voter guide for the special town meeting will include Ms. Orr’s perspective, as well as the reasons why the majority are recommending the bond measure, Ms. Gilfoy said.

School committee chair Amy Houghton thanked the fincom for its support.

“It’s been a really challenging time for all of us,” Ms. Houghton said.

“We are committed to finding ways to bring costs down, so we don’t have to use all the money,” she said.

The Sept. 20 special town meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs.