Friday, June 14, 2002
Budget process may hold tough choices for town government
The Mosquito asked Selectman Carol Peters to explain current budget considerations.
The Carlisle selectmen, finance commmittee and town administrator have been working overtime this week to prepare for our Special Town Meeting on June 17 and town election on June 26. The Special Town Meeting will decide on funding for the regional high school, adding an additional $125,000 to what has already been appropriated in order to meet the budget level passed in Concord. It would be funded by $50,000 from available revenue, and by additional taxes authorized by a proposed $75,000 override. Town Meeting will also decide on the state of salary increases for our non-school town employees, who would receive no raises under the current budget.
Should the $125,000 for CCHS be approved at the Special Town Meeting, the next step is an election on June 26, where the town will vote whether to approve the $75,000 override. If the override passes, the process is finished. If it fails at the ballot, we anticipate the regional school committee will call a joint Town Meeting, scheduled for June 27, to set the high school budget. Then the towns must find the funds decided upon at the joint meeting. If that meeting decides to fund CCHS at the level requested by the regional school committee, then Carlisle will need to cut other non-school budgets to generate the required additional money.
In the event the override fails and the joint Town Meeting appropriates an amount that would require more than the available $50K, we will have to make some very difficult decisions. At yet another Special Town Meeting (no date set), the town will be asked to make cuts in non-school departments to meet this shortfall. As you are no doubt aware, town government is running on a tight budget and any cut in funding will unavoidably result in reduced services.
The final proposals for cuts in town department budgets if the $75,000 override does not pass will be made by the selectmen on Thursday night. Prior to this meeting some of the items under discussion were:
• Decreasing the DPW staff by one person which will result in less maintenance being completed (Snow and ice removal will not be affected);
• Reducing the police budget with a potential loss in service;
• Cutting the library budget, probably new materials purchased;
• Transferring money that is being set aside for purchase of a new ambulance to fund ambulance operating expenses. This may potentially require the town to pay for part of a new ambulance from the long term capital budget in the future.
• Postponing some planning board studies. There may also be smaller cuts.
It's important to emphasize that these are preliminary discussions and the final recommendations will be made Thursday evening and posted on the Mosquito web site by the time this is published.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito