Friday, May 10, 2002
Warrant round-up Capital equipment, Superfund settlement, assistance to seniors, conservation restriction, Wetland bylaw
Twenty-three articles were moved during the two nights of Town Meeting on May 6 and 7. Except for the budget and the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge, most articles elicited few questions and were passed unaimously or, according to town moderator Sarah Brophy, by a "super majority."
Article 1 Town Reports
The main purpose of the article was to accept the reports of town boards and committees for fiscal year 2001 (FY01). In addition, the selectmenthanked voluntees who were stepping down from committees. Board of health chair Steve Opolski also thanked the water quality subcommittee for their excellent work since 1996.
Article 2 - Salaries
Salaries of elected officials, including the town moderator ($50), assessors ($100 each) and town clerk ($23,174 for FY03)were approved without debate.
Articles 3, 4, 5 - Operating Budget
These articles appropriate funds to pay for the operation and debt service for the town for fiscal year 2003 (FY03). The selectmen and the finance committee (FinCom) supported Article 3 (balanced or no-override budget) and Article 4 (5.9% override budget). Neither board supported Article 5 (7.0% override budget).
Article 3 passed on a voice vote by an overwhelming majority. Article 4 passed by a vote of 323 to 168. Article 5 failed .
See stories beginning on page 1 for details of the debate.
Article 6 - CCHS funding
This article, placed on the ballot by petition by Cindy Nock, chair of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC), asked to transfer up to $91,858 from the town's stabilization fund to appropriate a sum of money for Carlisle's share of the CCHS budget to match the lowest of Concord's override levels. Neither the selectmen nor the FinCom supported the article.
The article failed by a substantial majority.
See story beginning on page 1.
7. Capital Equipment
The funds requested would allow the town to purchase a water filter system for the fire department, routine replacement equipment and vehicles for the police, fire and public works departments, replace up to ten computers and a roof at the school, a printer for the tax collector, and repaint trim at Town Hall.
The article passed without debate.
Article 8 - Town Audit
The $16,000 requested will cover expenses to audit the town's financial records. The article passed
Article 9 Chapter 90
This article enables the town to borrow funds for the reconstruction of Carlisle roads in anticipation of state reimbursement (Chapter 90 funds). The state currently estimates that $136,00 will be provided for FY03. Article passed.
Article 10 - Stabilization
The approximately $300,000 now in the stabilization fund is the money received from the state as a partial reimbursement of the purchase of the Wang-Coombs Land. This article asks to transfer $33,097 for the annual payment for principal and interest on the remaining debt for the land purchase. Article passed.
Article 11 - Departmental Revolving Funds
This article authorizes existing and new funds which would be available in case the school committee decides to collect fees from parents to provide bus transportation for seventh and eighth graders or for full-day kindergarten. The funds will only be used should the 5.9% override passed in Article 5 fail at the town election. Article passed.
Article 12 - Veteran Agent
The town is required by law to provide an agent, who arranges for services from a variety of state and federal resources for any veteran or family of a veteran living in town. The cost of salary and expenses for these services is $1,437. Article passed.
Article 13 - Superfund Settlement
For many years, waste oil collections recycled at the transfer station were transported by the Beede Waste Oil Company to a site in Plaistow, NH. Both the transporter and the site were fully licensed. However, the EPA has designated the Plaistow facility a Superfund site and has assessed Carlisle a fee for recycling 19,000 gallons of waste oil. The volume of recycled oil and the magnitufe of the fees are still under negotiation. This article permits the town to raise $93,000 to settle the Superfund assessment, should appeals fail.
Alan Lehotsky of West Street asked why the town did not carry liability insurance for such an eventuality. Town administrator Madonna McKenzie replied that the she will look into this.
The article passed.
Article 14 - Transfer of free cash
The finance committee recommends a transfer of $225,000, which would leave approximately $225,000 in free cash. Selectman John ballantine warned that this is the lowest level of free cash in 10 years. The motion carried unaimously.
Article 15 Stabilization Fund
This article permits the town to transfer $300,000 into the town's stabilization fund. This is the fine AT&T Broadband must pay if the company does not meet it's contractual obligations to upgrade cable and internet services in town by March 2003. The article passed.
Article 16 - Senior Citizen
RE Tax Vouchers
Lynn Courant of the Council on Aging presented this article which sets aside $5,000 to take advantage of a state law (chapter 59 section 5K) allowing towns to exchange volunteer work by persons over the age of 60 for vouchers to reduce property taxes up to $500 per individual. According to Courant, there are 750 senior citizens in Carlisle eligible for the program and the first ten who apply will be taken. The maximum compensation rate is the current state minimum wage with no taxes, unemployment insurance, or workers' compensation reduction.The article passed unanimously.
Article 17 - O'Rourke Water Study Transfer
This article finances Article 16 by diverting $5,000 in surplus funds earmarked for the O'Rourke Water Study to the tax voucher program. It passed unanimously.
Article 18 - Aid to Elderly
and Disabled Fund
Article 18 takes advantage of a state law (chapter 60 section 3D) allowing towns to add a check-off box or other mechanism to tax bills for taxpayers wishing to donate additional amounts toward a fund for defraying the real estate taxes of elderly and disabled citizens of low income. A question from the audience was answered by Selectman Tim Hult who noted disbursement of funds is managed through a "taxation aid committee" consisting of the chairman of the board of assessors, the town treasurer, and three residents. Amounts checked off are "charitable donations" for tax purposes. The article passed unanimously.
Article 19 - Conservation Restriction
The conservation commission had clear sailing on its bylaw revisions, which took up considerable space on the Town Meeting Warrant, but proved benign. As presented by Jonathan Beakley they included a number of "cosmetic changes," along with phraseology that brought the local bylaw into conformance with the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act (WPA) as amended over the past five years. Fines for WPA violations were raised from $25 per day to $75 for a first offense, from $100 to $150 for a second offense and remained at $100 for third and subsequent offenses.
The most substantial change removed an outdated sentence specifying a $25 fee for applications to do work in or near a wetland (Notices of Intent) or for formal requests to ascertain whether such filing would be necessary (Requests for Determination), and replaced it with wording that permits the commission to establish a flexible fee structure.
Beakley explained that the $25 fee is lower than charges prevailing in surrounding towns and does not begin to cover the cost of evaluating the site and processing the resultant paperwork. He indicated that a new fee schedule would be established following a public hearing and would probably range from $50 to $75 for a Request and $100 to $200 for a Notice.
The article passed overwhelmingly.
Article 20 - Wetland Bylaw Revision
Article 19, placing 66.7 acres of town-owned land under a conservation restriction (CR), met with little opposition. Speaking for the conservation restriction advisory committee, Wayne Davis explained that the six parcels involved had been acquired for in the early nineties to meet a challenge from Harvard University. The school had offered to protect its 672-acre Estabrook Woods biological preserve in perpetuity, if the towns of Carlisle and Concord, together with public and private conservation organizations could obtain CRs on 400 acres abutting Estabrook.
The protective buffer having been obtained by 1997, Harvard duly registered its "charitable obligation" to preserve The Woods, trusting the Town of Carlisle to complete the legal paperwork placing its final 67.7 acres under formal CR. Said Davis, "Harvard trusted us; it's now five years later and we're overdue to keep our word."
Ken Harte, a major negotiator in the campaign to garner the 400 acres, offered detailed maps of the parcels involved, explaining that the Trustees of Reservations, who had been "superb partners" in the protection of The Woods, would hold and monitor the CRs.
To questions as to whether the Malcolm Land, which comprised a major portion of the CR, had been checked for its potential as a town water supply or as a cell tower location, Davis indicated the virtual impossibility of obtaining a "change of use" on land already designated for conservation.
The article passed.
Articles 21-23 - CPA Surcharge
Articles 21, 22 and 23 all proposed to cut the Community Preservation Act (CPA) real estate tax surcharge. Article 21 proposed cutting the CPA surcharge to 0.5%; Article 22 would cut the CPA surcharge to 1%; and Article 23 would change the rate to 1.5%.
After considerable debate, all three articles failed. Consequently, the CPA surcharge will remain at 2% for the following year.
See story on page 1 for details of the CPA surcharge and the debate.
The following Mosquito staff members contributed to this report: Nancy Pierce (Articles 2-12, 14), Cecile Sandwen (Articles 16-18), Seba Gaines (Articles 19-20), Betsy Fell (Articles 21-23), and Maya Liteplo (Articles 1, 13, 15).
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