Aquinnah voters will consider funding for town building repairs, the creation of an affordable housing trust and a school debt exclusion when they head to the annual town meeting and election next week. 

Residents will take up the 20-article warrant at 7 p.m. at Aquinnah town hall May 14. Longtime moderator Michael Hebert will preside. The quorum is 43 people. 

Voters will weigh in on a double-digit budget increase over last year. The recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year is increasing by 11 per cent, from $6.4 million to $7.1 million. That follows a 10 per cent increase year-over-year at the 2023 town meeting. 

Town administrator Jeffrey Madison said the rising costs are due partially to payments to the Tri-Town Ambulance service, as well as larger budgets for education and police.

The proposed school budget total rose by $355,000 over the previous year, police went up by $55,000 and the Tri-town ambulance, including debt on the new public safety building, went up by $231,000. 

Repairs to various town buildings — a longstanding issue in Aquinnah — again are a top priority on this year’s warrant. Voters will be asked to approve $250,000 for upgrades to the town hall, fire station and the town comfort station at Aquinnah Circle. 

Mr. Madison said the funds would be planned to go towards improvements to the floor at the fire station, doors for town hall and several windows across the buildings. 

“This is the second year in a row of our effort to take care of long neglected repairs to town buildings,” Mr. Madison said.  

Affordable housing also is a focus of the warrant this year. Voters have the opportunity to establish an affordable housing trust fund and an accompanying board. The board would oversee the fund and consider using it to create and preserve affordable housing in town, as well as provide assistance to households who make up to 175 per cent of the area median income.

Aquinnah has the highest percentage of affordable housing on the Island  and this new effort was being done to continue that trend. 

“We believe in contributing what we can to the broader Island community for affordable housing,” Mr. Madison said.  

In addition to the select board race at the May 16 election, voters will decide on a ballot question to raise an additional $330,000 in real estate and personal property taxes to fund the up-Island and high school budgets. The town is asking for the debt exclusion after coming up short from initial fund estimates, according to Mr. Madison. 

West Tisbury passed a similar debt exclusion for the up-Island school budget earlier this spring to the tune of $720,000, citing increased labor and service costs across the Island.

Aquinnah did not immediately have an estimate on how much the funding question would raise property taxes.