Friday, October 11, 2002
Shorts from the finance committee, October 2
• FY03 tax rate. Finance committee chair Larry Barton reported that the tax rate has been certified at $15.05 per $100,000 of assessed real estate value.
• SBAB received. Barton also reported State School Building Assistance Bureau (SBAB) funds have finally arrived. One million dollars in town borrowing, previously approved to make up for a shortfall in revenues due to late state payments, will now be reviewed. The FinCom will ask town treasurer Ann Vandal to weigh the cost of interest, expected to be $6-7,000, against the risk of running short. FinCom member Lisa Jensen-Fellows asked that Vandal present a town "borrowing policy" to match the existing "investment policy."
• Stabilization fund. The stabilization fund, which has been borrowed against to tide the town over until tax revenues come in, is tapped out. Barton reported the town expects to complete the sale of its Carriage Way property soon, which should add approximately $400,000 to the fund.
• Retirement funds. For the second year, a Warrant article funding state/county retirement, a required payment, was not moved at Town Meeting, leaving the town with a deficit. While it was included in the operating budget, it was erroneously believed a Warrant article would put the town over the levy limit. A motion was passed to add this item to future Warrants so it could be handled correctly in the future.
• Audit committee. The chair and vice chair of the FinCom (Larry Barton and Tony Allison, respectively) will share a position on the selectmen's newly-created audit review committee which will review the town's financial filings with the state. This will provide coverage as well as continuity over the years.
• Expiring terms. Speaking of continuity, Barton expressed concern that four of the seven FinCom members have terms that expire in June 2003. None of the four (Tony Allison, David Trask, Larry Barton, and John Nock) has yet indicated whether they would be willing to continue to serve. Allison observed that last spring's budget process included not only long hours, but unpleasant remarks made to his family members. "It kind of wears you out after a while," he said.
• Liaison to long-term caps. New member Deb Belanger asked if her liaison to the police, fire and DPW departments through the long-term capital requirements committee could include advising on decisions to purchase new equipment, versus using contract labor or renting. Barton agreed, "I think it's very worthwhile that you do that."
• CCHS contract negotiations. CCHS teacher contracts are up for renewal, with the threat of a strike hanging over the negotiations. The FinCom would like to have an "observer," but this may not be legal, as one observer has already been appointed by the selectmen. As the observer is not allowed to discuss negotiations or to participate, there was some question as to the value. "Maybe it would help us understand the process," offered Jensen-Fellows.
• CCHS assessment formula. A proposal will be made to the RSC to make the high school assessment ratio between the two towns a three-year moving average. This would smooth out fluctuations and make planning easier.
• FY04 budget guideline. A meeting on October 23 will incorporate input from schools and departments in finalizing the FinCom guideline.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito