Friday, April 2, 2004
Selectmen approve two overrides for Town Meeting
The Board of Selectmen agreed to place two overrides on the Warrant in preparation for the Annual Town Meeting on May 3. At their joint meeting with the Finance Committee (FinCom) on March 30, the Selectmen chose to offer separate overrides of $82,068 for the Concord-Carlisle High School, and $24,089 for additional funding of the town operating budget. Previously the FinCom, on March 24, voted unanimously to recommend the same $82K override for CCHS.
According to a Massachusetts law known as Proposition 2-1/2, an override vote is required if a budget item will increase real estate taxes more than 2-1/2% per year.
$82K override for CCHS
According to the regional agreement, both Concord and Carlisle must approve the same level of funding for the high school. Three budget levels have been on the table in the two towns:
• The Regional School Committee has asked for $16,844,079. The RSC Budget would allow the high school to minimize increases in class size, keep music, art and health electives, and avoid activity fees. However, the RSC states that administrative and coordinator positions will be consolidated, the student:teacher ratio will rise, and a subsidy for Adult and Community Education will be discontinued. This level requires overrides in both towns. The $82K CCHS override is the amount Carlisle must raise over the levy limit to meet its share of the RSC budget.
• The Concord FinCom recommends a budget of $16,556,526. At this level electives will be lost, department chairs will be eliminated, all co-curricular activities will require payment of a $40 fee and all athletics a $100 fee (the current fee is $75). The Concord FinCom budget requires an override in Concord, but not in Carlisle. Carlisle's levy limit budget supports this level.
• The Concord levy limit budget would provide only $16,132,513. This level requires no override in Concord, and would reduce the appropriation currently in Carlisle's levy limit budget. RSC member Betsy Bilodeau said, "We do not find [the Concord levy limit budget] at all acceptable." If no override passes in Concord, and Carlisle reduces its budget for the high school to provide a match, she stated, all athletics at the high school will be eliminated.
$24K override for Planning Board, Fire, Police
In addition to the Concord Carlisle High School override, the Selectmen decided to include a second override of $24,089 in the Warrant to cover additional operating expenses. This includes:
• Planning Board fees $2,197
• Fire EMT stipend fees $6,000
• Police meetings, training $15,892
With both overrides included, "the total tax increase [over the 2-1/2% limit] should be less than 2%," said FinCom Chair Lisa Jensen-Fellows.
Not contained in the FY05 budget is the hefty expense of replacing the Town Hall heating and air conditioning system, which is expected to be unveiled at a Fall Town Meeting. (See story on page 1.)
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