Friday, February 28, 2003
Revenues down, expenditures up, but it could be worse
With four months left in this fiscal year state aid has been cut while expenditures, including snow and ice removal, are running higher than expected. So far, the magnitude of the shortfall is manageable, but Carlisle officials are keeping their fingers crossed that no other budget insults occur.
Town officials had feared that major cuts, possibly layoffs would be necessary if the state carried through on its first estimate of a 10% cut in state aid to communities. However, when the cuts were announced, Town Hall was relieved to find that Carlisle would lose less than 1.2% of the amount promised for the current fiscal year, or $22,210 out of a total of $1,898,986.
In addition, the Carlisle Public School was notified that the state's 50% reimbursement of residential out-of-district special education costs will be delayed until August 2003. Fortunately, the amount this year is only $14,000.
Other town revenues appear to be on target, according to town administrator Madonna McKenzie. Taxes were down slightly, but increases in building inspection fees have helped bridge the gap.
With the winter showing no sign of ending, McKenzie is concerned about the unexpected cost of snow and ice removal. So far, she estimates, costs are $30,000 over budget and winter is not over. In addition, legal expenses are ahead of budget, with 89% of the budgeted amount already spent as of January 31.
School business manager Steve Moore hopes the school will end the fiscal year on budget, but has some concerns over a dispute on the cost of utilities and the possibility that another student may require out-of-district special education placement.
While there is no definitive plan for resolving the shortfall, McKenzie believes that a small gap can be made up by the town's reserve fund, which currently stands at about $87,000. However, warns McKenzie, most town budgets had a 0% increase in FY03, except for salaries. Any additional unexpected costs will be difficult to absorb.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito