The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 4, 2003


Footpath financing debated

After the $150,000 footpath construction proposal received a tepid reception from the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom), the pedestrian and bike safety advisory committee ("footpath committee") turned to the selectmen on March 25 for guidance on how to win FinCom support.

Deb Belanger, who is chair of the footpath committee and also a FinCom member, stressed that the footpath committee is advisory in nature and the board of selectmen retain the right to approve, modify or decline all parts of the project. The committee would coordinate and supervise construction on a day-to-day basis.

FinCom chair Larry Barton was also present at the selectmen's meeting and he clarified FinCom's concerns about the proposal. One concern was that the $150,000 represents only half the anticipated cost to build the entire pathway system. Another concern was the mechanics of financing the project and the impact on taxes.

Nuts and bolts of financing

Because the town cannot issue bonds for amounts under one million dollars, the $150,000 would have to be "piggy backed" on other town bonds. This is complicated by the fact that the entire $150,000 cannot be borrowed at once. The town is required to borrow only the amount it expects to need during the coming year, which would be $20,000 to $50,000 per year during the five years of the project.

If the town does not issue a bond during a given year, the pathway expenses could be funded by a bond anticipation note (BAN), short-term borrowing which can be renewed the next year, if necessary. Barton worried that if the BAN came due and there was still no large bond being issued, then paying the BAN immediately would cause a temporary "bump" in taxes. Town administrator Madonna McKenzie said the town would have the option to issue a new BAN to stretch out payment until a suitable bond was issued. Belanger said the money involved in the footpath project was small, "in the noise level" compared to the school wastewater treatment plant and future school renovations. She also thought that the town would probably be issuing bonds in the near future for these larger projects.

Selectmen speak in favor

The majority of the selectmen spoke in favor of the footpath plan. Selectman Carol Peters said, "There is a very serious safety issue with children and bicycles [on the main roads]." Selectman Tim Hult agreed: "I am very concerned by the increasing level of traffic around the town center." Of the project cost, Hult said, "It's a relatively small amount of money. I support this wholeheartedly."

Selectman John Ballantine urged the footpath committee to continue a dialogue with the FinCom and to hold a public hearing prior to Town Meeting in order to address questions from the voters.

$150,000 Footpath Plan
Proposed by the Carlisle Pedestrian/Bike Safety Advisory Committee
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Road: Bedford East Lowell Concord Westford
Town center to: Kimball's
Ice Cream
Distance: 0.6 mile 0.5 mile 0.4 mile 0.3 mile 0.5 mile
Segment Cost: $50,000 $30,000 $20,000 $20,000 $30,000

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito