Friday, October 26, 2001
Finance committee fine-tunes new budget modeling tool
Finance committee member Lisa Jensen-Fellows presented a first-draft of a model of the town's budget, which will eventually be used by the FinCom, selectmen and town employees to explore long-term effects of proposed budget changes. Jensen-Fellows started with historical budget data gleaned from the last five annual town reports. FinCom members and town administrator Madonna McKenzie then discussed various expenditures and revenue streams, in order to fine-tune the assumptions used in the model.
Jensen-Fellows stressed that the model would be a useful tool, but that the outputs were estimates only. She said "I'm not proposing we use this for budgeting." Rather, the model could be used to explore and experiment with "what-ifs." These "what-ifs" might be one-time large expenses such as a new school, or a purchase of conservation or recreation land. Or the model might be used to study the cumulative effects of gradually increasing municipal wages, or a growing number of retired town employees. Tony Barton noted that the assumptions used in the model should be checked annually.
Models of town growth
In the recent past other models, designed to extrapolate the future from current data, have proved useful in town land planning, especially "Growing Pains: A report to the Carlisle Municipal Land & Finance Committees on the impact of development and population growth on tax revenues and costs for town services in Carlisle," published in April of 1999, by John Ballantine, Beth Hambleton and Nancy Pierce.
In "Growing Pains," data showed that people who buy either new or existing houses in Carlisle tend to be younger and have more school age children, than the people who are selling their homes and leaving town. The study concluded that "controlling the pace of growth is critical for the budget, the quality of the schools, the taxes, the `rurality' of the town, and our sense of community." The "Growing Pains" study is available at the Gleason Library.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito