The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 7, 2003


'Easy' night for FinCom Library, BOH, planning board budgets on guideline

Everyone familiar with current economic conditions recognized that the fiscal year 2004 (FY04) department budget reviews were going to be difficult. However, the January 29 FinCom meeting proved to be an exception to the rule as the FY04 budgets for the Gleason Public Library, the board of health, and the planning board all met the FinCom guidelines.

Sunday library hours:

'Not this year'

Chair of the library trustees Brooke Cragan presented both a 'levy-limit' budget and a "growth" budget. The levy-limit budget totals $389,539, which is about 7% over the FY03 appropriation and the FY02 actual. Salary increases consistent with the ongoing wage and grade salary program initiated by the selectmen drive the budget increase. The budget request consists of approximately $247,000 for personnel, a little over $105,000 for materials (such as books and automation), and around $37,000 in building-related costs.

Sunday library hours and additional staffing to support an increased children's program would increase personnel costs by $24,000 in the growth budget. The increased use of the building and state regulations that require 20% of the budget to be spent on materials add approximately $10,000 for books and supplies and $6,000 in building-related repair/maintenance over the levy limit budget. These expenses are based on FY02 actual expenses.

Cragan noted that circulation was up 27% since 1998, which was the last full year in the "pre-renovated Library." In response to FinCom chair Larry Barton's question, Cragan indicated that she was confident that level services could be provided in the levy limit budget. There was strong support on the FinCom for having the library open on Sundays, but "not this year" due to the budget constraints.

'53E'board of health fund

Steve Opolski presented both a FinCom guideline budget of $65,921, and a level-services budget of $66,687 for the board of health (BOH). Compensation for the BOH agent and administrative assistant is over $60,500, or 92% of the total budget. Other expenses include fees for engineering services, flu clinics, nursing care, water tests, and other office expenses.

Historically, the BOH has been able to meet or beat its budget appropriation. State-mandated expenses for a nurse, to verify and report Lyme disease cases, and the animal inspector represent the only significant challenges to meeting the recommended FY04 budgets.

The board of health charges fees for certain services, such as barn inspections, that are placed in a 53E account. The fees paid into this account at the beginning of a project are used to pay for the actual inspection expenses incurred over the three-year life of that project. Currently, there is approximately $59,000 in the BOH 53E account. Although it is difficult to determine the exact amount that will be consumed by inspections over the next three years, it is highly probable that there is a surplus. This is due to projects that are terminated prior to completion. The BOH has decided that, beginning in FY05, 20% of the income from the engineering, well, and sanitary inspection fees will be used to cover the BOH general expenses related to these projects (with the remaining 80% going into the 53E account).

FinCom member Lisa Jensen-Fellows, who was recently appointed to the town's new revenue enhancement committee (REC), indicated that the REC is looking at the 53E accounts and fee structure of all Town departments.

Planning board meets guidelines

Although not present, Tom Lane, planning board treasurer, submitted three budgets for the planning board. The guideline budget raised salaries 2% and other expenses as necessary to conform exactly to the FinCom guideline of a 1.5% increase over the prior year appropriation. The level services budget increased expenses $254 over the guideline budget in order to maintain the FY03 budget appropriation for supplies. A "growth" budget asked for an increase of $2,291 over the level services budget for increased employee hours to address the community development plan work.

Lane noted in his cover memo that the planning board has just received a $30,000 grant from the state, for the preparation of a community development plan (see last week's issue for details), and also expects to receive revenues from wireless applications. Lane also reserved the right to request additional salary funding if some town departments receive higher salary increases than other departments. FinCom chair Larry Barton noted that regulating salaries for town departments was a policy issue addressed by the selectmen in the wage/grade Initiative, and therefore not the purview of the FinCom.

FinCom to review Town Debt Capacity

Barton ended the meeting by informing finance committee members that the selectmen has asked the FinCom to review the town's debt capacity. Lisa Jensen-Fellows and Debra Belanger agreed to take on this additional task.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito