Friday, February 18, 2000
Carlisle School agrees to trim budget request
The Carlisle Public School sent the town financial leadership home happy on February 8 when school representatives told a joint meeting of the finance committee and board of selectmen that the school could cut roughly $60,000 from its budget. School committee member Paul Morrison emphasized that the cut would not require any staff reductions but would require families with children who attend the Carlisle Public School, and others who use the school facilities, to pay higher fees for certain services.
"This cut makes a difference to people without children in the school," said Morrison. "It says, okay, we'll do our bit" in searching for revenue and cutting costs. According to Morrison, sixty percent of households in town do not currently have children who attend the school.
In order to maintain level services, however, the school budget still requires an operating budget override in the amount of $80,000. The school's original request was $258,800 over the guideline and there was no discussion at the meeting of how to fund approximately $100,000 remaining in the budget. However, the FinCom is considering transfers from free cash to cover overruns from many town departments.
The FinCom had requested the $58,803 school budget-cut as part of a three-pronged scenario to bring a FY01 operating budget override request down from roughly half a million dollars to the $250,000 to $300,000 range, after a transfer from free cash. The other two pieces of the plan are a $39,196 reduction in the town's share of the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School budget, which depends primarily on a vote by the Concord Finance Committee to reduce the high school budget, and further reductions to other town departments, including a significant reduction in the requested library budget. The Gleason Library also agreed to trim their budget. (See article on page 4.)
Sale of town land
Concerned about the town's bond rating, FinCom chair Tony Allison further recommended that the proceeds of the sale of all town-owned land be put into the stabilization fund. "Land is a town asset," seconded FinCom member Tom Bilotta. Allison explained that, as part of setting the town's bond rating, the rating agencies look at the combined amounts in the town's free cash and stabilization accounts to determine how much of a cushion the town has in meeting its obligations. The board of selectmen resisted this suggestion, stating that the town needs to weigh all potential uses of sale proceeds before it is earmarked for a specific fund.
The FinCom also recommended that the town bond all four long-term debt projects previously approvedthe pumper truck, the Wang-Coombs land acquisition, the Gleason Library renovations and the air quality rooftop units at the school. These projects should be bonded as soon as possible, said Bilotta, because interest rates are going up and townspeople should start to pay for what they have already approved before new projects come up.
Selectman John Ballantine suggested that the debt for Wang-Coombs be structured so that it can be partially retired when the town receives the $30,000 expected agricultural preservation restriction grant. Allison said that he would rather see the money go into free cash to give the town more flexibility on how to use the money.
Noting that free cash has not yet been formally certified (the Department of Revenue verbally certified the amount just prior to the fall Town Meeting), selectman Michael Fitzgerald suggested that the town should consider moving all free cash into the stabilization fund. This would avoid have to wait for formal recertification before identifying the amount available to the town. A transfer would require a vote at Town Meeting.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito