Friday, August 1, 2003
August 12 Town Meeting canceled FY04 budget is balanced
The Board of Selectmen have canceled the August 12 Town Meeting, because recent events will eliminate the FY04 budget deficit of approximately $50,000 caused by the late-June cuts in state aid.
Several factors contributed to balancing the town's budget. First, the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee officially voted to reduce the high school budget by 1%, thereby reducing Carlisle's assessment by $28,000. Secondly, the Town Assessor has increased the estimate for new housing to at least $31,800,000 raising the expected real estate tax revenue. Finally, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) has reduced Carlisle's FY04 premium by $4,000.
However, there is a chance that Concord's planned August 11 Town Meeting may yet affect Carlisle. Concord is struggling to make up a deficit of $900,000, much larger than Carlisle's $50,000 shortfall. Concord Selectmen have prepared a Warrant with Articles requesting all town departments and schools to cut their budgets by 2%. Carlisle Selectmen support a 1% cut in the high school budget. If Concord's Town Meeting votes a 2% cut for CCHS, then the Regional School Committee has the option of calling for a joint Concord-Carlisle Town Meeting to resolve the budget mismatch.
Last week the Concord Journal reported that Concord FinCom Chair Judy Terry proposed a three-part compromise, recommending that 1) town departments, the K-8 school and the high school cut 1% from their FY04 budgets, 2) $100,000 be transferred from free cash, and 3) the town approve a Proposition 2-1/2 override of $350,000. The Concord Selectmen have not yet commented on this proposal.
Concord hit harder
According to Carlisle Finance Committee member Larry Barton, both towns prepared their FY04 revenue estimates based on a budget recommended by Governor Romney last spring. In late June, the Legislature voted a number of changes in state aid to towns, which affected Concord and Carlisle differently. Concord had expected to receive approximately $1 million in "PILOT" (payments in lieu of taxes) money from the state, based on the governor's budget. These funds were subsequently cut by the Legislature. Carlisle expected and received only modest PILOT funds.
In the unlikely event that all parties agree on a 2% cut for CCHS, Carlisle's assessment would be reduced further, creating a budget surplus of $28,000.
Selectman Tony Allison worried about the impact of cuts to the educational program at the high school, and hoped to avoid teacher lay-offs. The Carlisle Selectmen reaffirmed their support to reduce the regional high school budget by "at most 1%."
© 2003 The