Friday, May 10, 2002
Carlisle and Concord still apart on CCHS budget
By a large majority Town Meeting voters defeated a proposal that would have raised additional funds for Carlisle's assessment for the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District. Article 6, originally intended to match the lowest of Concord's possible CCHS overrides, had been added to the Warrant by citizens petition. By Tuesday evening the proposal had morphed from a conditional appropriation to a transfer of $92,000 from the stabilization fund. Neither the selectmen nor the FinCom recommended approval.
The purpose of the article was to avoid another potential town meeting, chair of the regional school committee Cindy Nock explained. The article's defeat, depending on the outcome of town elections next Tuesday, could move the town one step closer to a joint, or "district," meeting of voters in the two towns and/or painful budget reductions in Carlisle.
Chair of the board of selectmen John Ballantine summarized the basis for the selectmen's opposition. The funding level Carlisle might be required to match depends on what if any override Concord voters approve at their town election May 14. Three increases over what Carlisle has already budgeted are possible: $91,193 (recommended by the Concord FinCom) to $138,492 (recommended by the Concord selectmen), to $164,510 (requested by the RSC).
The selectmen want to be "fully informed" about their options before deciding how to proceed, and waiting until the town of Concord has chosen its level will help, Ballantine said. Later, selectman Doug Stevenson noted that even if Carlisle voted the transfer there was no assurance that Concord would not force a joint town meeting to raise the assessment even further.
Ballantine also expressed concern about depleting the town's reserves, pointing out that the $800,000 expected to accumulate in the stabilization fund by June 30 is just enough for the town to keep its AA bond rating, and that an operating deficit feared for this fiscal year might further reduce the town's reserves up to $100,000. Using the town's "savings account" for operating expenses would be "poor business management," added selectman Vivian Chaput.
June town meeting & election?
The failure of article 6 leaves Carlisle with only one appropriation for the high school, matching Concord's lowest of three possible levels. If after next week's election different budget have been approved in the two towns, the regional school committee might decide to accept the budget voted in Carlisle. If not, Ballantine said, the selectmen will call a special town meeting for June 10 and a proposition 2-1/2 override election June 17, for voters to decide whether to match whatever Concord has voted.
If voters decline to raise more taxes in this round, or a district meeting votes a higher budget, selectmen eventually may be forced to reduce budgets for the Carlisle public school and other town departments to pay the assessment. [For additional information on the CCHS budget confusion, see the April 12 and 26 issues of the Mosquito, in the archives at www.carlislemosquito.org.]
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito