Friday, May 1, 1998

Need for funding is clear

To the Editor:

Carlisle is fortunate to have five very qualified, experienced and committed candidates running for selectman this year. Their contrasting views provide an unusual and valuable opportunity to consider Carlisle's future. We should be grateful to all of them for the choice they present. The opportunity to make choices is the essence of New England participatory democracy.

This year's Town Meeting/election cycle presents another important choice. We are being asked to decide whether to authorize an additional $115,000 in property taxes. We are presented with this choice because of Proposition 2 1/2. That law prohibits the town government from raising taxes more than 2.5 percent without an affirmative vote.

The need for this funding could not be more clear. The override request is supported by the board of selectmen, the finance committee and the school committee. But support for this funding is not limited to current office holders. Every one of the candidates for selectman has publicly expressed support for the override.

The need for this funding has been anticipated for several years. Everyone who has struggled with town budgets has recognized that funding available under the constraints of Proposition 2 1/2 would not be sufficient to meet our needs. The legislature which imposed those constraints has been freewheeling in imposing unfunded state mandates such as special education, mandatory transportation for students attending private schools and new core curriculum requirements. Tax limits that may have made sense in the early 1980s are woefully inadequate to meet the needs of a burgeoning school enrollment.

There are no luxuries in the proposed override budgets. In fact, there will be some loss of level services even if the override passes. Town officials will be challenged to meet our high expectations even with additional funding. But they seem to enjoy those challenges.

Carlisle is fortunate to have so many capable, committed volunteers who are willing to help make the town work. We should not deny them the modest revenue increases they consider essential for meeting our expectations. We can show our support by attending Town Meeting and voting in support of the override request at the election on May 11.

David E. Watson

North Road

Former selectman