The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 30, 1999

News

Warrant articles for Town Meeting

The following Warrant article summaries were written by Darlene D'Amour, Seba Gaines, Mary Hult, Marjorie Johnson, Dave Ives and Phyllis Zinicola

Article 4: Town operating budget presents balanced budget and some override requests

Article 4 includes the request of $11,257,419 to fund the operating costs for all town departments, a sum supported by the finance committee and selectmen. However, there are also requests for additional sums to be included in level 1, 2, or 3 of the Proposition 2 1/2 override. Townspeople will have the opportunity at Town Meeting to vote on whether to fund each item included in the override, but failure of any particular item will not change the amount appropriated on the ballot. If the override level of that item passes at the May 18 election, the amount will be put in the free cash account. Similarly, any budget item approved at Town Meeting will be contingent on a majority vote at the town election on the override level in which that item is listed.

At the election, for the three-tiered operating budget override request, the question for the highest dollar amount which garners a majority will prevail. Question 1a includes levels 1,2 and 3; 1b includes levels 1 and 2; and 1c includes level 1. The operating budget override amount will become part of the tax base upon which future taxes are calculated.

The balanced budget results in a projected 4.4 percent increase in the tax rate, from $15.62 to $16.31. With the approval of the level 1 override that climbs to $16.56, with levels 1 and 2 to $16.78 and with levels 1, 2 and 3 to $16.93.

Overrides supported

Within Article 4, the selectmen and FinCom support the following requests which will require approval at Town Meeting and the lowest level of the pyramid at the election:

· Under the general government, a total of $36,282 will be requested. This includes: $25,811 for the new town counsel and related expenses; $758 for the town clerk's budget for part-time wages, meetings and supplies; $9,019 for facility maintenance, computer maintenance and telephone expenses; $693 for planning board clerical support.

· Under property and protection, $22,160 will be requested to make communications department salary levels more competitive and $2,789 will be requested for ConsCom because some Wetlands Protection Act fees were deposited in the general fund.

· Under the board of health, $4,930 will be requested for secretarial support.

Carlisle School

The finance committee approves a 10.4 percent increase in the Carlisle School budget which includes a new .6 position for an associate principal. This request was a point of some discussion, but school officials state the request is necessary due to rising enrollment. However, the school does not believe that this budget will provide level service. For that reason, they have requested, and the FinCom and selectmen support their request for, $53,987 in level 1 and 66,522 in level 2. The level 1 requests include funding for items throughout the budget, such as contractual obligations, special education services, needs related to five percent enrollment increase and funding for programs currently supported by grants, such as a half-time guidance counselor, a nurse and part-time kindergarten program. The level 2 requests include a half-time choral music teacher to expand the middle school program, a half-time foreign language teacher to begin an elementary program, and $25,000 for campus maintenance that would cover boiler repairs ($10,000) and some exterior painting. The school has asked that some level of maintenance be added to their base budget for future years.

The FinCom and selectmen did not recommend the $53,500 request from the Carlisle School in level 3 which would provide $10,000 for field trips, $20,000 for athletics, $17,000 for a facility use subsidy, $1,500 for eighth-grade graduation and $5,000 for Indoor Air Quality training and support. Field trips, athletic fees and graduation expenses are currently paid for by parents or fundraisers. (See Articles 5 and 13 for additional funds for school repairs.)

Concord-Carlisle High School

This is the first year there has been an operating budget override request for Concord-Carlisle High School since Proposition 2 1/2. Carlisle's share of the CCHS budget for FY00 is $2,316,713. This is an increase of $219,637 or 10.5 percent. The Carlisle FinCom guideline for that budget is set at $2,280,134, allowing an increase of $183,058 or 8.7 percent. The difference results in the override amount of $36,579. (Recently, the Carlisle FinCom corrected a line error and what was previously reported to be a $60,000 budget override was reduced.) Carlisle's assessment is based on the number of students enrolled at CCHS and the ratio is expected to be 24 percent next year, with a 3.1 percent enrollment increase.

The increase in the high school budget is in the following areas: 40 percent for contractual salary raises and new textbooks; 34 percent for rising special education costs due to more students moving from the middle schools to the high school; 21 percent for additional teachers due to increasing enrollments, a Chinese language program, a part-time guidance/teen counselor and a part-time teacher to administer a new technology grant; and 5 percent for MCAS test remedial instruction and staff development.

Concord taxpayers will not have to vote on an override request for its share of the budget. Gerry Missal, director of financial services, explained that if Carlisle were to ask that the $36, 579 amount be removed from the CCHS budget, the budget would have to be reduced by $150,407 to ensure that both the Concord and Carlisle assessments remain proportional. Furthermore, Massachusetts law governing regional school districts states that if the override should fail in Carlisle, the budget would go back to the regional school committee to see if any further adjustments could be made. If the RSC made no changes, a Special Town Meeting would be convened and if the budget is not approved, it would return to the school committee again. If there were still no changes to the budget, a joint Concord-Carlisle Town Meeting would need to take place, with Carlisle ultimately responsible for the override amount.

The FinCom is recommending $15,000 for a student at the Norfolk Agricultural School, $5,000 of which is in the level 1 override request. There was some debate about the town having to pay for the education and transportation for this student last year. However, the student did not move to Carlisle and is now anticipated for next school year. Transportation costs are still uncertain.

Recreation commission

Due to the new recreation fields on the Banta-Davis Land, the FinCom recommended an additional $5,806 for field maintenance in the guideline budget. They also recommend an additional $10,000 in the level 1 override because the FinCom anticipates that maintenance for new fields will be $15,000 annually, similar to Spalding Field. The FinCom and selectmen also do not recommend approval of the recreation commission's request of $25,000 for a part-time recreation director. Commissioners would like assistance with administrative work, similar to other town boards, as they now process 1,800 registrations per year and collect $120,000 in fees which are used to pay for the services.

Article 5: Long-term capital expenditures

The long-term capital requirements committee, the selectmen and FinCom recommend the following projects under Article 5:

· $5,000 to replace pagers for the on-call firemen

· $11,000 for an alarm decoder which deciphers the location of an alarm and is tied into the fire horn

· $3,200 for SCBA air bottles for use by firemen when fighting a fire; they must be replaced after 15 years

· $10,000 for air conditioning in the police station patrolmen work areas. This has been a request for years because policemen must wear bullet-proof vests at all times and it gets very warm and uncomfortable during warm weather. After some debate, this request requires a level 2 override.

For the Carlisle School, the selectmen, FinCom and LTCRC have recommended $30,000, within the levy limit. This will be used for waste pipe repair ($9,500), water pipe replacement ($5,500), and exterior painting ($15,000). In addition, $22,500 has been recommended in the level 2 override for gym and locker room refurbishing ($18,000) and Carlisle Castle playground repairs ($4,500).

Neither the FinCom nor the selectmen supports the level 3 request of $18,000 for a new compactor at the transfer station. It was intended to replace one of the current three which are at least 14 years old and require frequent repair. However, with increasing demand, the new compactor may also operate as a fourth on the site.

Article 7: CCHS regional agreement

Under the original agreement for the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District, towns paid the district on a cost-per-student basis. The Education Reform Act of 1993 overrode these agreements by requiring the use of a complex formula, basing each town's contribution on the rate of new growth in the town.

After protests from towns involved in regional agreements, new state legislation was passed, permitting regional districts to revert to the original agreements if all members agree. A vote is required annually at each member's Town Meeting. Article 7 asks voters again to grant approval for the cost-per-student basis.

Article 9: Affordable housing on Conant

Article 9 is proposed by the Carlisle Housing Authority and asks the town for $30,000 for the planning and design of up to 12 units of affordable housing on the town-owned Conant Land.

The appropriation will cover the cost of preliminary site plans, septic and well testing, schematic drawings of possible multi-family townhouses, and to establish how the town could afford to build and manage such a development. This project is derived from the affordable housing plan for the Conant Land that was defeated at Town Meeting in 1990. Some of the engineering costs incurred in 1990, such as the septic system location, need not be duplicated in the new project.

The impetus for this revived interest in affordable housing traces directly back to developer Bill Costello. State law Chapter 774 requires each town to have ten percent of its housing units held as affordable. Carlisle has only 1.21 percent affordable housing consisting of 18 units in Carlisle Village. Using comprehensive permits, Costello hopes to override Carlisle zoning laws and build 16 houses on 14 acres on East Riding Drive. Four of these houses would be sold at a price that makes them "affordable."

The housing authority believes that the cheapest and best way to reduce this type of development is to build affordable housing in town. "Having a town-sponsored group build affordable housing will not prevent developers from doing comprehensive permit projects, but will reduce their probability of success when they go to the state for project approval," explains chair Marty Galligan.

The housing authority learned that of the 119 full-time permanent town employees, 39 of them are earning less than $40,000 per year. Residents who have been forced to move out of town because of economic reversals or divorce might also find affordable housing a viable option. Although there's a great desire for more affordable elderly housing, "It's unlikely that we can get state subsidies and credit towards the ten percent number for elderly housing until we've provided a substantial amount of affordable family housing," says Galligan.

"Our intent is to build the smallest project (6-12 units) that is economically viable," according to Galligan. Looking beyond the planning phase, he foresees coming back to Town Meeting in the fall of 1999 to ask for about five acres of Conant Land. "Hopefully, this would be the last expense to the town," he said. "We expect that we can get a loan to cover construction and another to pay off the construction loan and serve as the long-term mortgage."

The selectmen and FinCom support this article.

Article 10: DPW site

This article would authorize the selectmen to spend $13,613 to continue the state-mandated clean-up of the department of public works site on Lowell Street.

In the course of excavating the underground fuel storage tanks at the DPW last fall, workers encountered evidence of fuel leakage into the soil. All observable contaminated soil was then removed under the direction of the state department of environmental protection, and monitoring wells were installed. Early this year, one of the monitoring

wells displayed further contamination. The bioremediation plan prepared by ENSR, the company hired by the town to oversee the clean-up, estimated further costs of clean-up to be approximately $46,000. According to town administrator David DeManche, most of the plan will be implemented this fiscal year and paid for from the FY99 contingency fund, leaving the remaining $13,613 for next year.

The selectmen and FinCom support the expenditure of $13,613 for the clean-up which will require voter approval of the level 1 override.

Article 11: Chapter 90

Article 11 requests the approval and expenditure of $189,173 for construction work on roads and pathways. Once the work has been completed and paperwork filed, the town will receive full reimbursement from the state, according to Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Article 12: Fire truck

Fire chief Bob Koning attended the April 15 selectmen's meeting to discuss his request in Article 12 of the Warrant for a new $304,000 fire truck. "Our current truck is a 1985 Ford commercial chassis that only holds two firemen," said Koning. "We spent $7,000 on repairs this year to keep it running." He explained that this truck is the first piece of equipment to arrive at a structure fire and two firemen are limited in what they can do until the others arrive.

The new truck will have a custom chassis with a 470-horsepower diesel engine. It has been upgraded to carry four firefighters and features a 1,500-gallon water tank with a four-inch-large- diameter hose. The larger diameter hose replaces two three-inch-diameter hoses formerly used to provide the 250-gallon per minute flow for fighting a standard fire.

The new fire engine actually costs $329,000, but Koning expects to get $25,000 when he trades in the old truck.

"This replacement is in keeping with the department's ten-year long-range goal to provide full staffing on the responding attack engine and the need to carry the maximum amount of water," said Koning. Selectman Burt Rubenstein noted that a new pumper truck would have a useful life of from 10 to 15 years.

Selectmen and FinCom recommend this article. It will require a two-thirds vote of approval at Town Meeting and approval of the debt exclusion at the election. The tax impact for a $400,000 home would be $24 decreasing to $12 over 15 years.

Article 13: Robbins rooftop units

Article 13 requests $153,200 to replace two roof-top heating/ventilation units on the Robbins Building that are 30 years old and no longer functioning adequately. This amount also includes screens for the Robbins and Wilkins Buildings and window and hardware replacements in Robbins. The project is eligible for partial reimbursement by the state, but funding must be approved by Town Meeting before the school can apply for 60 percent reimbursement from the School Building Assistance Bureau.

The FinCom, selectmen and LTCRC have all recommended this request. For approval of this bonded expenditure, a two-thirds majority vote at Town Meeting is required, as well as a majority vote on the debt exclusion at the election. The estimated tax impact for a $400,000 home is $24 decreasing to $20 over the five-year period.

Articles 16, 17: Town computers

This article would allow the selectmen to purchase a replacement or upgrade of the municipal accounting system, assessing system and, if funds permit, for components of a local area network (for interconnectivity among town departments). The purchases will include computer hardware, software, operating systems, conversion of existing data or creation of new data, installation, training and related costs.

Based on quotes from the town's current computer vendors, administrator David DeManche has estimated the cost of these purchases to be $49,445 of which $30,000 is included in the balanced budget, $5,000 is included in the level 1 override budget and $5,000 is included in the level 2 override requests. Article 17 would transfer $10,000 from an appropriation made at the 1998 Town Meeting for Town Hall computers and software to supplement the funds appropriated in Article 16. DeManche explained that the appropriated funds were not spent in FY99 because the products expected to be bought were no longer available from the vendor.

DeManche stated that $21,170 would be used for hardware and software for the town's accounting system, $26,275 for the assessors' system and $2,000 for the collector's.

Selectmen opted to upgrade the town's computer system in phases, with the accounting and assessing systems first because these systems are necessary to issue tax bills next year. The board felt that the payroll system could be deferred to FY01. Selectmen and FinCom recommend both articles.

Article19: Wage and classification study

For the personnel board, Article 19 which calls for a $15,000 appropriation to get professional help in drafting a wage and classification system, addresses equity issues among Carlisle's non-union employees. In the course of the study, job descriptions will be revised and wage ranges set within each job classification.

Under existing procedures, the board has been acting only when individual positions are referred to them for wage adjustment or new hire compensation. In those cases, the board tries to find comparable positions in comparable towns, often having to depend on rather subjective research by the applicant. Since titles and responsibilities vary from town to town, particularly at the higher levels, such as "board of health agent" or "planning assistant," the comparisons are inexact. In addition, board members do not have the professional background to evaluate equitably between, for example, a library assistant and a DPW driver. In sum, the personnel board feels that a professional study should remove inequities and put board decisions on a more objective plane.

The selectmen support this request which is dependent on approval of the level 2 override but the finance committee does not.

Article 18: O'Rourke water study

This article would allow the board of selectmen to spend $30,000 for engineering and consulting services associated with evaluating the O'Rourke Farm for a possible municipal water supply.

In the deed of the property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month, the town reserved the rights to locate a potential water supply and to drill a well and install the necessary pumping equipment to create a municipal water system. Under the agreement, the town will receive an additional $115,000 from Fish and Wildlife if the well can be located on what the parties have designated the nondevelopable portion of the property.

The study need not be done this year, however, because the town has three years to identify the site of the well. If the well location is not specified within three years, the town effectively loses the water rights, according to Greg Peterson.

Funding for this article is contingent on passage of the tier two override ballot question. Selectmen and FinCom recommend this article.

This article would allow the selectmen to purchase a replacement or upgrade of the municipal accounting system, assessing system and, if funds permit, for components of a local area network (for interconnectivity among town departments). The purchases will include computer hardware, software, operating systems, conversion of existing data or creation of new data, installation, training and related costs.

Based on quotes from the town's current computer vendors, administrator David DeManche has estimated the cost of these purchases to be $49,445 of which $30,000 is included in the balanced budget, $5,000 is included in the level 1 override budget and $5,000 is included in the level 2 override requests. Article 17 would transfer $10,000 from an appropriation made at the 1998 Town Meeting for Town Hall computers and software to supplement the funds appropriated in Article 16. DeManche explained that the appropriated funds were not spent in FY99 because the products expected to be bought were no longer available from the vendor.

DeManche stated that $21,170 would be used for hardware and software for the town's accounting system, $26,275 for the assessors' system and $2,000 for the collector's.

Selectmen opted to upgrade the town's computer system in phases, with the accounting and assessing systems first because these systems are necessary to issue tax bills next year. The board felt that the payroll system could be deferred to FY01. Selectmen and FinCom recommend both articles.

Article19: Wage and classification study

For the personnel board, Article 19 which calls for a $15,000 appropriation to get professional help in drafting a wage and classification system, addresses equity issues among Carlisle's non-union employees. In the course of the study, job descriptions will be revised and wage ranges set within each job classification.

Under existing procedures, the board has been acting only when individual positions are referred to them for wage adjustment or new hire compensation. In those cases, the board tries to find comparable positions in comparable towns, often having to depend on rather subjective research by the applicant. Since titles and responsibilities vary from town to town, particularly at the higher levels, such as "board of health agent" or "planning assistant," the comparisons are inexact. In addition, board members do not have the professional background to evaluate equitably between, for example, a library assistant and a DPW driver. In sum, the personnel board feels that a professional study should remove inequities and put board decisions on a more objective plane.

The selectmen support this request which is dependent on approval of the level 2 override but the finance committee does not.

Article 20: Toddler playground

The toddler playground committee request of $10,000 for a gazebo structure and fencing for the toddler playground to be built at Diment Park on Church Street is in level 3 of the override. Neither the FinCom nor the selectmen are recommending this expenditure.

Sharyl Stropkay, toddler playground committee chair, said that $27,000 has been raised privately to pay for the playground equipment which has been purchased and is scheduled to be installed on June 7. Private donations are still being solicited so that, if town funding fails, the fence and gazebo can be added to the playground at a later date.


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito