Friday, January 7, 2005
FinCom previews ConsCom, Library, Planning Board budgets
In advance of the formal budget hearings for FY06 that begin in January, the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) invited a number of town groups to preview their budget on Decmber 20.
ConsCom offers 4.5% budget cut
Tom Schultz and Tricia Smith of the Conservation Committee and Sylvia Willard, the Town's Conservation Administrator, told the FinCom that the ConsCom would present a budget 4.5% below this year's spending. In part, Schultz explained, ConsCom is able to take advantage of a windfall in its 53E1/2 account, because the ConsCom has been accumulating these funds, largely permitting fees related to wetlands, while it researched how these funds could be used. The conclusion, stated Willard, is that the funds could be applied to the portion of ConsCom expenses related to wetlands regulation and protection. As 92% of the ConsCom budget is for labor, the built-up windfall will have a significant effect on next year's budget.
On the side of increased expenses, Schultz noted, the three-year experiment to allow sheep to "mow" Towle Field has ended because the sheep proved ineffective in eradicating poison ivy. This in turn will require mowing of a more conventional kind.
Library budget on guideline
A group led by Angela Reddin, the director of the Gleason Library, told the FinCom that the Library would present a budget within the 1.5 % guideline. The Commonwealth mandates that 20% of the library budget be applied to the collection — books, periodicals and databases — Reddin explained, which means that any increases earmarked for wages (typically about 70% of the budget) indirectly increase the collection budget as well. This is not necessarily a bad thing, Reddin said, because the town's circulation rate is among the highest 5% in the state, so it is important to keep the library's collection current.
Planning Board budget on guideline
Louise Hara (chair), David Freedman (vice chair) and Rich Boule (treasurer) of the Planning Board also indicated to the FinCom that the Board's 2006 budget would be within guidelines. Hara indicated that the Board has been working on a community development (CD) plan, as required (and funded) by Executive Order 418. The Executive Order provides up to $30,000 to each town to assist in creating a CD plan in conjunction with the Commonwealth's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Hara said that Carlisle had spent about $20,000 of the allotted funds on a planner who left the firm the town had contracted with, so the Board voted to terminate the contract. Freedman said that the Board would have no choice other than to complete the CD plan with the remaining funds available. The timetable, Freedman explained, is driven by the Benfield development, because the town will not be able to assess whether Benfield meets affordable housing criteria without the CD in place. Therefore, the plan should be completed in 2005. Hara added that a CD is not a replacement for a master plan, which currently does not exist. FinCom member John Nock added that the CD plan "is among one of the most important things the town has to do."
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