Friday, October 17, 2003
Shorts from the FinCom, October 8
• School wastewater plant. School Building Committee Chair Paul Morrison presented the plan for the wastewater treatment facility for the Carlisle Public School. Morrison said he has "heard nothing from anyone" regarding a legal challenge and has addressed the concerns of abutters. "Our legal position is stronger now," said Morrison, "but in the American legal system you can always sue." There is a possibility the DEP could require a prolonged technical review, endangering the start date. DOE reimbusement is also not a certainty. Operating costs of the plant will be $50,000 per year to hire a contractor for the first year or two. No motion was made as the FinCom wanted time to consider the impact of the Warrant Article for funding. Thanking the committee, FinCom member Bret Bero said, "I can't imagine anything more needed or less appreciated."
• Stabilization Fund. Town Treasurer Larry Barton was concerned that money taken out of the Stabilization Fund to pay down debt on the Hutchins and Robbins Fields (Wang-Coombs Land) is reducing the fund due to the difference in interest rate between what the fund earns (about 1%) and what the bond requires (5.35%). He will look at whether it is worth prepaying or refinancing the loan.
• Quarterly tax collection. Barton also recommended quarterly billing for taxes, noting the town pays about $10,000 per quarter in interest on short-term loans. Even with the extra costs of preparing bills, "We should be able to save money." The FinCom recommends quarterly taxes to the Selectmen.
• Training and systems. Saying "Sometimes you need to spend money to save money," Barton spoke of the need for investment in the town's financial departments. Job redundancy is needed; the death of Sarah Andreassen delayed tax bills because no one was trained to take over her job. Systems are a problem; they don't communicate with each other so the assessor, for example, can't send his data to the tax collector. The four people who use the systems most have received no formal training. "To make the system productive, you have to have that training." He will prepare some recom-mendations. FinCom Chair Lisa Jensen-Fellows noted Carlisle's budgets for financial departments "are a fraction of those of comparable towns."
• FY05 budget guideline. The guideline was revisited and several assumptions changed. Assumptions for state aid were reduced, reflecting an expected 5% cut. A sum of $25,000 was added for operation of the wastewater treatment plant. The amount reserved for the Warrant for long term capital requirements was reduced. It appears that only about $30,000 will be available for increases in town budgets. The FinCom plans to finalize the guideline at their meeting on October 21.
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