Friday, May 21, 2004
Ballot questions ask for your vote and your $$
Two overrides, a capital exclusion, and a debt exclusion will be on the ballot in Town Elections Tuesday May 25. If all pass as easily as they did at Town Meeting May 3, weeks of planning by town committees to provide a level of funding for the high school compatible with Concord's, while assuring needed town operating funds and capital outlays, may be vindicated. Under state law, property taxes cannot increase more than the 2-1/2 percent "levy limit" without an "override" approval at Town Meeting and Town Elections.
Override for CCHS budget
Question 1 asks the town to approve an override of $82,068 for the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS). Concord citizens will be asked to approve an override of $205,485 at the Concord Town Election June 8. Passage of this level of override in both towns brings the high school budget to $16,844,079, a $287,553 increase over the levy-limit budget. The override was recommended by the Regional School Committee and by the Carlisle and Concord Selectmen and Finance Committees. Both Carlisle and Concord approved the $16,844,079 CCHS budget overwhelmingly at their Town Meetings.
If the overrides fail at the ballot box, the Regional School Committee may call a Joint Town Meeting to reconsider the high school budget, or it may decide to live with the levy-limit budget. This would require cutting four teaching positions as well as many co-curricular and athletic activities.
Under the regional agreement, the two towns must pass the same budget level for the high school. Two years ago, Carlisle required an additional Town Meeting and Town Election to reach agreement with Concord.
Town government override
Question 2 would add $24,089 to cover town government operating expenses not included under the levy-limit budget. This would allow the fire department to implement EMT stipends, the Planning Board to fund consultants to continue its housing master plan and digital mapping of the town, and the police department to bring back firearms qualification, training and meetings lost in past years' budget cuts.
Capital exclusion for town needs
Question 3 asks for approval of a capital exclusion (money raised through taxes above the levy limit) of $112,170 to cover a number of needed items. Among these are dining hall furniture for the Carlisle School to replace aged and broken chairs and tables; replacement of carpeting at Town Hall that has buckled and is providing a hazard; a police/communications radio receiver; and software for the treasurer/tax collector compatible with the MUNIS system installed throughout Town Hall.
Debt exclusion for CCHS
Question 4 would provide authorization for the Regional School Committee to raise $535,000 for immediate needed improvements at CCHS. These include portable language lab equipment to replace outdated technology, flooring and lighting in the lower gym, and repair and replacement of forty-year-old lockers. All improvements will be retained under any plan for further high school renovations.
The five-year debt service would be split between Carlisle and Concord according to student ratios and is expected to add $37,000 to Carlisle taxes the first year. The authorization was approved at both Carlisle and Concord Town Meetings and requires approval at both towns' elections.
© 2004 The