Friday, January 31, 2003
FinCom hears from clerk, ConsCom
Carlisle Town Clerk and Elections Registrar Sarah Andreassen and Carlisle Conservation Commissioner Tricia Smith predsented their proposed budgets for the next fiscal year (FY04) to the finance committee on January 22. The Once again the FinCom heard that meeting their no-override budget guideline of a 1.5% increase over the current year requires trade-offs.
Only one Town Meeting budgeted
Andreassen presented the guideline budget for the elections/registrars department. At $2,925, it requires cuts in wages that would reduce staffing for town elections and provide for only one Town Meeting in FY04. Chair Larry Barton noted "to budget for one Town Meeting is sticking our heads in the sand" as two per year has become the norm. Andreassen estimated a second Town Meeting would cost her department an additional $600, not including police details, sound systems, and other costs not carried by the elections department. FinCom member Deb Belanger reminded the committee the guideline police budget had eliminated special details for Town Meetings and elections. Andreassen was asked to gather a total cost estimate for a second Town Meeting so a decision can be made whether and how to fund one.
A lack of police details would be a particular problem on election days, when two policemen are typically on duty all day. Andreassen also noted with a presidential primary likely to generate high turnout, "If we don't have the funds to man the polls it causes a problem."
ConsCom budget below guideline
An increase in permitting fees has "made a real difference," according to comissioner Smith, allowing the committee to present a budget of $57,221, or $1,014 below the guideline. Of a reserve/revolving fund balance of $12,000, Smith elected to apply $1700 to reducing the budget. There was discussion of how much this fund should be reduced per year, as the intent is to cover costs of a permitting process that takes three years. This led Belanger to suggest perhaps one-third of the fund could be spent per year, but she conceded it might be wise to be conservative. Smith defended keeping ConsCom wages at a constant level in '04 in spite of a fall-off in permits, noting the need for "conservation management and housekeeping" which were neglected when staff was tied up with permitting activity. FinCom member Lisa Jensen-Fellows praised the ConsCom for "trying to work within the guideline during this difficult year."
But dams, culvert need repairs
ConsCom may present several Warrant articles at Spring Town Meeting. The Greenough Dam, the Greenough house and barn, an eroding dam in Chelmsford that affects the Cranberry Bog, and a stone culvert on the Old North Trail are among the projects requiring help. Smith noted the ConsCom's "very low maintenance budget" requires them to go to Town Meeting for each repair.
In response to a question, conservation administrator Sylvia Willard said the Community Preservation Act Committee did not seem receptive to assuming repair costs as they are saving funds for a multi-purpose land purchase. Willard added, "I agree CPA funds should not be easy money. We should explore all avenues (for grants) before going to them." Added Barton, "But the taxpayer should be the last resort."
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito