Friday, February 12, 1999
A number of town budgets on target or close
The town treasurer, tax collector and town clerk revealed that their budgets were right on target for FY00, while the board of assessors and planning board indicated slight overruns.
Town treasurer Nancy Koerner presented FY00 budgets for the treasurer and tax collector, both of which met the finance committe's three-percent guideline. This represents $58,354 for the treasurer's office and $37,222 for the tax collector. FinCom chair Charlie Parker wondered whether the town might benefit if some of the bond issues were combined. "Can we lump the library with something else?" he asked. Koerner responded that she plans to meet with a financial advisor in the near future for that purpose and requested FinCom participation. Member Phil Conti offered to attend.
Koerner mentioned that she moved the town payroll account to Fleet Bank when BankBoston closed their office in Carlisle. General receipts, such as fees, fines, and excise taxes are kept in the Community National Bank in Acton.
Board of assessors
Tom Dunkers of the board of assessors admitted to a slight overrun of $515 above their $69,303 guideline. "There's a tendency lately for people to challenge their assessmentto take it to court," said Dunkers. "If we feel confident, we'll face them. Otherwise, we may need to hire an independent assessor." When asked who represented the board in court, Dunkers quickly replied, "We do! The last time, we presented our case and won. There's no need for an attorney when we're confident that we did the right thing."
Dunkers explained that the board of assessors determines an average value for each style and size of house. "That's what the judge wants to know." Dunkers foresees a case someday rising to the Appellate Tax Board where the board may need to hire legal assistance.
The state checks assessments every year and certification is required every three years. "We try to keep assessed value within +/- 10 percent of sale value," said Dunkers. Administrator Rena Swezey reported that new growth equaled $14,816,630 for the year. "This is usually low," she said. "We have to go by what's on the building permit."
Town clerk Sarah Andreassen expected to meet her $26,571 guideline, but expressed concern over the costs of running extra town elections. "There's talk of two Town Meetings and two elections," she said. "Each election costs us $400 extra." Andreassen mentioned that there have been several requests for the town to provide passport application services. Admitting that "there is money to be made in selling passports," she is reluctant to take on that service "because people can easily go to the Concord post office or the Westford town clerk."
Bill Tice, planning board treasurer, reported that they are only $694 over the $40,739 guideline. They would like to see a four percent or greater salary increase for staff, consistent with other town boards and committees. "If you compare with seven surrounding towns, we're at the bottom for staff salary," he stated.
FinCom member Nina Ostrom, reacting to this recurring request, asked, "Who makes the decision to raise salaries?" Parker explained that FinCom sets the guidelines, but doesn't get into individual salaries. "That's up to the personnel board. We try hard not to micro-manage the budget."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito