The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Monday, June 17, 2002

News Flash

Town Meeting funds high school budget

RSC cancels joint Concord-Carlisle Town Meeting

At a well-attended Special Town Meeting last night, voters passed, by wide margins, articles increasing budgets for town departments and funding the Concord-Carlisle High School budget at the level approved by Concord.

Voters overwhelmingly passed Article 1, which enabled the town to raise an additional $101,614 from taxes and general revenues of the town, and to transfer $53,496 from available funds to defray departmental expenses during fiscal year 2003. John Ballantine, chairman of the Carlisle Board of Selectmen, presented the motion, which was supported unanimously by the selectmen, as well as by a majority of the finance committee. There was not much discussion of this article. Larry Bearfield, chairman of the Carlisle Committee forTax Fairness, spoke in support.

RSC: Fund CCHS first

Article 2 stated that the high school would be funded as follows: $50,000 from anticipated revenues and $75,000 from increased taxes, which would have to be approved in the proposition 2-1/2 override election to be held June 26. However, Mike Fitzgerald, vice chair of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC), presented an amendment deleting language which made funding of the Carlisle assessment for the high school contingent on passage of the $75,000 override; the amended motion funded the high school without an override. The selectmen opposed the amendment, but the finance committee approved. After a lengthy discussion on the floor, the amended motion passed by a clear, but not overwhelming, majority.

A quorum of RSC members were present and immediately voted to cancel the joint Town Meeting that had been scheduled for next Thursday, June 27. If the RSC had had to wait until after Carlisle’s override election vote next Wednesday, it would have incurred about $10,000 in non-refundable costs. These costs were largely for the sound system needed to accommodate a large joint Town Meeting in two or three different rooms. Fitzgerald also called the possiblity of a joint Town Meeting “costly and divisive, and not in the long-term interests of the region.”

Motion to raid stabilization fund fails

The selectmen did not move Articles 3 and 4, dealing with transfers from the town’s stabilization fund. However, former RSC chair Cindy Nock made a motion from the floor to transfer $75,000 from the stabilization fund to cover the newly-approved appropriations. This, Nock argued, would fully fund the entire FY03 budget without leaving the town dependent on passage of the $75,000 override of Proposition-2 1/2. The stabilization fund, she said, will be over $1 million once the sale of a town-owned Carriage Way lot is completed. Both the board of selectmen and the finance committee weighed in against this motion, explaining that the purpose of this fund was for one-time capital projects, such as new buildings or land purchases, rather than to cover the town’s normal operating expenses. The motion failed by a wide margin.

Override vote needed to balance the budget

By defeating the motion under Article 4 a temporary budget deficit was created. This deficit will be eliminated if voters approve the override election to be held next week. If the override fails, then the selectmen will need to call yet another Special Town Meeting to authorize budget cuts to rebalance the budget.

© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito