Friday, March 11, 2005
LTCRC, FinCom prioritize FY06 capital requests
How do you squeeze $1 million in capital requests into a $146,000 budget? On February 28, Peter Chelton of the Long Term Capital Requirements Committee (LTCRC) presented recommendations to the Finance Committee for capital items to be included in the levy limit (no override) budget. With over a million dollars in requests and a FinCom guideline of $146,000, the LTCRC committee recommended $190,500 in items be voted on outside the budget at Town Meeting in May, and also recommended several requests be deferred or dropped altogether.
Items within the levy limit budget
Recommendations within the budget included routine items such as protective clothing for the fire department ($6,000), and replacement of a police cruiser ($30,000), of 20% (40) of the total computers at the Carlisle Public School CPS) ($36,000), and of 11 computers at the Gleason Library ($12,327). Chelton noted that the school, with an eight-to-one student-to-computer ratio, is above the state-recommended standard of five-to-one, but computers are accessible to all students. A technology upgrade costing $25,000, also recommended, will allow full use of the school's network connection capability and improve software and networking at the school library.
Other recommended items were $36,171 to be added to an NSTAR grant of $18,759 to upgrade lighting at CPS so as to save $8,029 per year in electric costs.
A collapsed culvert on the Old Morse Trail near Hart Farm will require $10,000. Tricia Smith of the Conservation Commission defended the need, saying "It's the only place on the Carlisle trails that's truly hazardous." Abutter George Senkler and horsewoman Suzanne Vazehgoo also spoke in support of the repair. The Trails Committee will receive $3,000 for materials to make boardwalks, signs, and bridges to improve the trail network if a request for Community Preservation Act funds is not granted.
The FinCom requested the $158,498 in levy limit capital items be reduced to $146,000 to fit within the guideline. The other items will be taken under consideration and a recommendation made to the Board of Selectmen at a later date.
Three items totaling $190,500 were recommended for capital exclusion votes at Town Meeting: three police mobile data terminals ($42,500), a DPW backhoe ($78,000), and a vehicle exhaust system for the Fire Department ($70,000). The mobile terminals would allow police to fill out reports and access crime and motor vehicle information from police cars. Chelton noted Carlisle's is the only police department in the NEMLEC (North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council) area without this capability. The backhoe would replace one in service since 1986 used to dig graves, load road sand, and move items at the transfer station. The vehicle exhaust system would prevent exhaust buildup in the fire station while vehicles are running. Currently the bay doors are left open, a method that is ineffective and cold.
Proposition 2-1/2 allows a community to assess taxes in excess of its levy limit for the payment of certain capital projects. A capital exclusion requires approval at Town Meeting and the subsequent Town Election.
Several items were deferred pending more information. A request for additional funding of a Carlisle School expansion study is on hold until costs can be nailed down. A Recreation Commission request for two ballfields on Banta-Davis for soccer and baseball was lacking in details and justification. A $140,000 request for two fire cisterns and $475,000 for a fire truck were deferred with a request the Fire Department submit a long-term plan for cisterns and equipment. For example, it would be useful to know if homeowner insurance rates might drop if more cisterns were available.
Requests not recommended
A few requests were eliminated as alternative methods were found to solve the problems. The CPS will not need a truck for $28,000; instead, the DPW will take on plowing and sanding at the school. A need for roadside mowing will be solved by subcontracting for $4,000 per year rather than buy a new DPW tractor and side mower for $70,000.
Also not recommended was a Concord-Carlisle High School debt exclusion request for $590,000 to replace bleachers in the upper gym ($130,000), fix a canopy ($35,000) and buy outdoor bleachers ($425,000). Although the LTCRC committee supported the first two requests, it was concerned the outdoor bleachers would not fit into the long-term plan for renovation or replacement of the school. As the requests were presented together, the first two could not be pulled out. An Article for all these items will be presented at Concord's Town Meeting, but even if passed, it will die without Carlisle on board.
© 2005 The