The Tisbury government is growing and at their annual and special town hall meetings next week, voters will be asked to approve the creation of a human resources department and the post of a full-time director to lead it.
The municipality also wishes to create two new positions: an administrative secretary for the fire and rescue service and a second municipal accountant.
Voters will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. to conduct the annual affairs of the commune; it will mark the last town meeting in the old Tisbury School gymnasium, which is set to be demolished later this spring as part of the school’s $53 million renovation. Moderator Deborah Medders will chair. There are 30 articles on the annual municipal assembly mandate and 12 articles on a special municipal assembly mandate.
In an interview with the Gazette to review the mandate, city treasurer-collector Jon Snyder spoke about the proposal to create a human resources department.
“The city has always been very careful about adding positions because it’s not just about salaries, but also about benefits,” said Snyder, who is the top finance official. from the city.
“There is just a significant need for help,” he continued. “In the case of the city accountant, we have had the same number of people for 20 years and the workload is probably 30% higher than 20 years ago. . . I think these will be welcomed by voters.
While the growth of the city accounts for much of the increase in the work of accountants, Snyder said the work itself has also changed.
“There is so much more activity on grants and statistics, [and] revenue that needs to be accounted for,” he said.
The new human resources department will handle employee recruitment, hiring, training, benefits, time off, workers’ compensation, labor relations, contract negotiations,… affirmative action and diversity programs, depending on the mandate.
The Director of Human Resources will report to City Administrator John (Jay) Grande, whose title, in another special meeting mandate article, is expanded to include Director of Personnel.
Debt service for the school construction project helped swell the city’s 2023 operating budget to $34.4 million, a 13.4% increase from the year In progress.
Snyder said he expects the housing bank article to generate a lot of discussion at the meeting.
The city’s advisory and financial committee voted 4 to 2 not to recommend the article.
“Everyone supports affordable housing, however, some felt this bill is not the solution,” the committee wrote in the voter guide. “The bill being drafted at the state level would be more beneficial to Tisbury and easier to integrate. It was feared that the housing bank would mean more [real estate] development in Tisbury, more stress on our services because we are a town with more working families. Concern about restricting deeds and creating a two-tier ownership system. Others thought that the housing bank was needed now as a means of intervening in a runaway housing market and it is a good proposition that represents the contribution of the whole island.
The annual mandate is full of expense items, and Snyder said the city has enough uncommitted funding to cover those not covered by budgets or other funds.
But the generally used term free money, he said, is a misnomer for what is actually a mix of recent revenue and leftovers from previous town meetings.
“Free money isn’t money and it isn’t free,” Snyder said. “These are funds that we have already taxed ourselves, but have not finished spending. . . we have already lifted [it]so it’s less painful to spend it.
Another source of available cash has grown in recent years, Snyder said.
“If local revenue is higher than expected, it becomes disposable money [and] one place we’ve seen more than expected is the short-term rental tax,” he said. “We’re seeing so much more activity there than expected that it’s boosted our free cash flow.”
The surplus will allow voters, if they wish, to approve all spending requests – many of which are for island-wide social service programs – while keeping money available on the books. .
“Even at the end of the town meeting, after everything is spent, we try to keep a balance,” Mr. Snyder said.
Other sources of funding on the mandate are the Community Preservation Fund, which is tapped for a long list of projects such as the preservation of the Grace Church steeple ($107,829.00) and numerous regional activities; the Navigable Ways Fund, for the equipment of port services and the Water Companies Fund, for the hydraulic works service.
Voters will also be asked to split the Steamship Authority’s share of Tisbury’s $248,519 boarding fee, with $100,000 for dredging, $94,250 for the police department, $25,000 for beautification of the downtown, $23,519 for firefighter breathing equipment and $5,750 for the city’s annual membership to the Martha’s Vineyard Law Enforcement Tactical Team.
The municipal election will not take place until May 24, unlike other cities on the Island which go to the polls two days after their municipal assembly.