Friday, May 7, 2004
Aye to everything Override for CCHS matches Concord level PATRIOT Act resolution passes after long debate
The difference in attendance and passion was striking. On March 23, a record 700 citizens checked in to participate in a Special Town Meeting which dealt with a single issue, the purchase of a 45-acre parcel of land on South Street. On Monday, May 3, only 246 people attended the centerpiece of town government, the Annual Town Meeting, which establishes the town budget for the next fiscal year, approves bylaw changes, manages most town committees, boards and functions, and provides an opportunity for the town to debate pressing issues.
Fearing another crushing crowd in the auditorium, the school cafeteria was set up to handle the overflow which never appeared.
The 246 stalwarts approved 23 of the 24 Articles on the Warrant (Article 16, Greenough cottage repair, was withdrawn), including two overrides and two debt exclusions which must still be approved at the Town Election on May 25. Although the Town Meeting ran almost four hours, participants had enough energy for an hour-long spirited exchange over the last Article, the resolution to repeal portions of the USA Patriot Act (See story page 5).
Capital Improvement Plan
Under Article 1, Chair of the Long-Term Capital Requirement Committee Peter Chelton presented a short report on the committee's new initiative to develop a Capital Improvement Plan for the town. The full plan, to be presented at the fall Town meeting, will attempt to balance town needs against the ability to afford them. It will also recommend sequencing capital expenditures in order to avoid fluctuations in tax rates.
The balanced budget
Chair of the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) Lisa Jensen-Fellows reviewed the expected revenues and budgeted expenses in the "balanced budget" for fiscal year 2005 (FY05), starting July 1, 2004. Both revenues and expenses will increase by 2% next year. Under the balanced budget, the needed services will be covered by revenues including property taxes (within Proposition 2-1/2 limits), new real estate growth, state aid, local receipts and fund transfers from FY04 free cash. No override of Proposition 2-1/2 is required to fund the balanced budget.
The Carlisle Public School, which represents 41% of the town budget, will receive a 2.3% increase in funding over FY04. In addition, the school has transferred $90K in unused FY04 "Circuit Breaker" funds (state reimbursement for special education outplacements) to the FY05 budget. The combined funds will allow the school to maintain level services and fund programs which were funded privately, primarily through CEF/CSA fund raising, in the past year.
The FY05 budget for Concord-Carlisle High School, 22% of the town balanced budget, will increase by 6.8%. Due to a decrease in state aid, CCHS will not be able to maintain level services, requiring some cuts. (See page 4.)
Twenty-nine percent of the balanced budget supports town deprtments, including police, fire, DPW, and all boards and committees. Almost all units will receive sufficient money for level services. "The administrative team [in Town Hall] has made a serious effort to control costs," Jensen-Fellows acknowledged.
Article 3 will increase the average tax bill by 1/2%. The Article passed with minimal discussion and no dissent.
Supplementing the balanced budget, the Warrant also included two overrides of Proposition 2-1/2. Article 5 requested an override of $82,068 to maintain important programs for CCHS. It passed easily. (See story page 4)
A small override, providing $24K for EMT stipends, police training, and Planning Board consultants, also passed to an overwhelming majority.
© 2004 The