Friday, November 16, 2001
Shorts from the selectmen, November 6
· Local aid lacking. The selectmen were concerned to learn that local aid money committed to Carlisle by the state may not be paid. Selectman Vivian Chaput reported on a meeting of the fiscal policy committee of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, where she learned that shortfalls in the state budget will require significant cuts, and "everything is on the table, including local aid." Chairman John Ballantine, examining the possible repercussions on town budgets, said, "We would have to cut people because we don't have another way to cut expenses." Selectman Tim Hult spoke of the bind that towns are in, due to the restrictions of Proposition 2 1/2, and said, "We need to send a letter, and a strong one," to state representatives. A motion passed to send a letter as soon as possible.
Carlisle expected to receive $2,0767,038 in state aid this year, and even a 10 or 20 percent cut would mean a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the town. State spending is currently underfunded by at least $1.4 billion due to recession and the voter-approved tax cuts being phased in this year. The state has yet to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, allowing departments to continue spending at last year's levels in spite of the drop in revenue. According to Chaput, "the longer the state goes without a budget, the deeper the hole they dig." As an alternative to cuts to local aid, the state could decide to tap reserves set aside over the past several years. The balance in the state's stabilization fund alone is over $2.3 billion.
· Ambulance runs increase. According to Carlisle Fire Chief Bob Koning, the number of ambulance runs has increased nearly 50 percent over the past two years. He requested $31,650 from the ambulance fund to replace oxygen cylinders, a defibrillator, training tapes, a CPR mannequin, and other worn-out ambulance equipment. According to Koning, equipment is wearing out faster due to the increase in runs. Whereas 1999 saw 104 runs, 146 runs have already occurred in 2001 "and we're not there yet." This service generates revenue, as insurance typically covers it. Ballantine raised concerns about "pots of money around town with no review by boards" such as Long Term Caps, which should provide oversight. Ballantine then voted with the other selectmen to approve the request.
· School Loop's next step. A test path is the next step in assessing the cost of the proposed school loop pathways plan. Deb Belanger and Heather Hedden of the pedestrian and bike safety advisory committee reported that the plan, which would provide walking paths along parts of Church Street, Bedford Road , and School Street forming a "loop," was presented at a public meeting on October 17. Discussions are currently taking place with abutters, and Belanger characterized those discussions as "positive we've been able to accommodate their requests for changes."
· Chapter 61 signed. The Chapter 61 Policy, which sets out requirements for homeowners wishing to remove property from an agricultural or forestry restriction, was signed by the selectmen. This will protect the town's right of first refusal when a change of ownership or use is implemented.
· Take Back Resolution sent along. A Take Back Resolution, urging the state to pass a bill requiring sellers of refrigerators, computer monitors, televisions, and other products, including those containing motor oil, mercury or cathode-ray tubes, to take responsibilty for recyling and/or disposal of those products, was sent to the selectmen for approval. One of the purposes of this proposal is to lighten the load on Carlisle's transfer station. It was referred to the Carlisle Recycling Committee for a recommendation.
· Carlisle's redistricting. Chaput also reported that the elimination of Carol Cleven's district, which included Carlisle, is "a done deal," and nothing can be done to save it. Carlisle will now be part of Concord's district. In a later interview, Chaput expressed her regret: "Carol Cleven was a good representative for Carlisle. We will miss her."
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito