Friday, January 18, 2002
FY03 budget heads selectmen agenda
Finance committee member Lisa Jensen-Fellows appeared before the selectmen on January 8 with an overview of the state of the town budget for fiscal year 2003 (FY03). The selectmen had asked for an analysis of the repercussions of holding the tax rate to a 5% increase. Uncertainty regarding items such as pensions and benefits made it impossible to discuss specifics, but it was clear preliminary requested budgets would far surpass the FinCom guideline, which sought to hold the tax rate to a 4.5% increase.
FinCom chair Tony Allison, who was not present, had suggested a transfer of as much as $450,000 from Free Cash, along with cuts in requested budgets, to try to avoid the need for a vote to override Proposition 2-1/2 limits. Town administrator Madonna McKenzie reported that the town's free cash amount "has not been certified, but should be within a week or two." RecCom chair Maureen Tarca questioned the proper balancing of Free Cash transfers, budget cuts, and override requests and proposed that the voters be given a choice in an override. Selectman Vivian Chaput pointed out that a cash transfer is "one-time" whereas an override "adds to the base levy" ("Like a large bonus versus a salary increase," added Paul Morrison of the school committee). Jensen-Fellows offered that the selectmen attend an up-coming meeting with a member of a ratings agency to get a better picture of how best to manage budget shortfalls. This suggestion was met with enthusiasm.
Cindy Nock of the Regional School Committee predicted "likely resistance" to a request from Carlisle to cut the high school budget. She said that Concord's increase of 6.2% for the high school is "close to the [Concord] FinCom recommendation. There's less pressure on the regional budget, more on their K through 8," she added. Selectman Tim Hult was concerned that "our school (Carlisle Public) shouldn't bear the entire burden" of assuming the budget cuts required.
The selectmen agreed to recommend for the time being a budget consistent with the FinCom guideline. They also asked Jenson-Fellows to return with information on what cuts will be needed to maintain this guideline.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito