Short-term rental restrictions, a change in town energy policy and $1.8 million in library renovations all top the warrant for West Tisbury annual town meeting next week, along with a series of smaller funding articles and proposed revisions to the town zoning bylaws.

Voters will take up the 44-article warrant at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9 at the West Tisbury School gymnasium, with the quorum set at 137 people. Free childcare will be available at the school from 5:45 to 9 p.m.

Town moderator Dan Waters will preside over the meeting, the last before his retirement.

In addition to the warrant articles, voters will be asked to approve a $25.6 million proposed budget, a 7.28 per cent increase over last year.

Higher town expenses and more common budget overrides have become the norm for many municipalities, said town administrator Jen Rand.

“Many towns are seeing somewhat regular overrides when they didn’t before because the cost of things is going up,” she said. “I would love to say it’s an aberration, and it used to be, but I think it’s becoming more common that we have overrides at this point.”

The proposed short-term rental bylaw ranks high among issues likely to generate debate, added Ms. Rand. The bylaw has already faced public scrutiny at a series of public meetings

Discussions to enact such regulations began in 2022 but were mostly developed last year, said short term rental bylaw committee chair Bea Phear

“Our goal is to continue to allow this customary accessory use, and to prevent investor purchases of real estate for short-term rental purposes,” Ms. Phear said. 

The regulation would restrict town residents to operating one short-term rental per owner, require owners to reside there for at least 30 days per year, create a minimum rental period of seven days and require renters to register their properties with the town. 

A previous draft of the bylaw restricted owners to only renting the properties for 12-weeks, but that stipulation was removed following public feedback, Ms. Phear said. 

“It was very hard to try to weave a path that we felt was fair and good for the community, but I think we’ve succeeded in doing that,” she said. “I’m delighted that it’s coming on to the floor.”

Ms. Phear added that she plans to make a last-minute amendment to the regulations on town-meeting floor, swapping the words “commercial use” to “accessory use.” The change, she said, will bring the regulations in line with the town zoning bylaw, and adhere to precedent set by a recent court decision involving a rental property on Nantucket.

The heftiest funding article on the warrant this year is a $1.8 million appropriation to pay for repairs of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the library, adding to the $1.2 million appropriation made at last year’s town meeting. 

The increase, Ms. Rand said, is the result of the town getting more accurate cost estimates of the work required to do the project. 

“When we asked for the initial appropriation, we had no engineering done, we didn’t have any money to even get started,” she said. “It’s not as if we had a bid, and then the cost doubled. It didn’t. We had a couple people do a back of the envelope estimate.”

Ms. Rand likened the process to the Chilmark school HVAC project, which also faced unexpected price increases. 

“We should have taken a lesson from that and we didn’t,” she said. “We can talk all day about how it should still work. And it’s crazy that it didn’t last the 15 years it should have. But it doesn’t.”

If approved at town meeting, the funding for the library work would also have to pass at the April 11 annual town election because the town would exceed its tax levy limit. 

The ballot also includes a $720,000 request to bolster the Up-Island Regional School District budget, as increased labor and service costs have driven up school budgets across the Island

Two nonbinding resolutions asking voters opinions on turf fields at the high school will also appear on the ballot.

The planning board has also included an article on the warrant this year, designed to strengthen the town’s “big house bylaw,” said planning board chair Leah Smith. If passed, the new regulations would change how the town calculates floor space of attics and basements. Finished and unfinished attics would be included in the floor space equation, while some basements with visible exterior walls and windows will also be so designated.

“Every time there’s a new bylaw, there’s some bit of ambiguity that you weren’t aware of when it was written,” Ms. Smith said.

Also included on the warrant are articles on funding for a new multi-board administrator position to implement an energy efficient “specialized energy code,” and a proposal to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Town voters will also consider a series of minor funding articles to pay for the annual town employee cost of living increase, a dry hydrant on Tiah’s Cove Road and $100,000 for various building repairs and upgrades. 

To register for free childcare at the West Tisbury Library, call 508-693-3366 or email