Friday, May 27, 2005
No disagreements: Town Meeting approves all Articles
Vote on Benfield Land development delayed to June 8
The Warrant asked for a lot of money for fiscal year 2006, over $21 million, but the group of citizens that gathered for the Annual Town Meeting on Monday night came to approve the proposed expenditures, not to argue with them. In two and a half hours 25 Warrant Articles were moved and approved, most without any discussion. However, the near unanimity was only possible because the most controversial issue, a request to appropriate $75,000 for the design of an affordable housing development and one recreational field on the Benfield Land on South Street, was delayed until June 8.
As is customary, Chair of the Board of Selectmen Tim Hult opened the meeting by thanking a long list of board and committee members whose terms of office had ended in the past year. Hult singled out two individuals, Board of Appeals member Hal Sauer and Selectman John Ballantine who were stepping down after more than two decades of service.
Hult then moved that at the end of the evening the Annual Town Meeting adjourn to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, in order to consider the motions on development of the town-owned Benfield Land. The motion was approved unanimously.
FY06 operating budget set at $19.6M
Finance Committee Chair Dave Trask gave a short summary of the town
operating budget for fiscal year 2006 (FY06), beginning on July 1.The
budget exceeds FY05 expenditures by 4.4%, including a 6% increase for
the schools. On the revenue side, State aid is expected to increase
by 1.9%, and local receipts by 16.1%, due primarily to a one-time refund
from the New England Solid Waste Committee (NESWC) of $110,000.
This will result in a 1.9% increase in the average tax bill. Therefore, for the first time in more than a decade, the town's operating budget does not require an override of Proposition 2-1/2, the state statute that limits the annual increase in property taxes to 2-1/2%.
All capital items approved
Articles 8, 9, and 11 requesting a number of capital expenditures, mostly replacing or upgrading existing technology and equipment for the Police, Carlisle school and the library, were all approved with little discussion.
The substantive new expenditure was for police mobile data terminals, specified in Article 9 for $42,500. Susan Stamps of Cross Street asked if these could be purchased with federal homeland security funds. Police Chief David Galvin said the town has received $12,000 for homeland security, which has already been spent to develop a control and command center, and to purchase an all-terrain vehicle to access areas such as the state park. "I haven't heard there are any more homeland security funds coming our way," Galvin concluded.
Also approved was $78,000 for replacement of the DPW's 1986 backhoe, "the one piece of equipment used most frequently [by the DPW]."
With the addition of capital items (most of which are capital exclusions and are not subject to Proposition 2-1/2 limits) the average FY06 tax bill increases by 3%.
Town Clerk's salary
The Town Clerk's salary had been the subject of considerable debate at Selectmen's and FinCom meetings. Town Clerk Charlene Hinton had reported that her duties required her to work approximately 35 to 40 hours per week, and that the 20 hours that her office was open to the public needed to be extended. Her salary of $26,894 was not appropriate for the workload.
The Selectmen surveyed Town Clerk compensation in similar neighboring towns and determined that salaries ranges from $40,000 to $56,000. The Personnel Board supported an increase.
Article 4 requested that the Town Clerk's salary be increased by $19,606, to a new total of $46,500. Prior to Town Meeting, the Selectmen had voted 4-1 in favor of the increase; the FinCom split 2-2. The Article passed with no questions or discussion.
School Wastewater System
The only issue that sparked some discussion was the request under Article 7 for an additional $1.3 million for a waste water treatment system for the Carlisle School, bringing the project total close to $3 million. A two thirds vote was required and the Article passed easily. (See story on page 1.)
School master plan study approved
Superintendent Marie Doyle gave a summary of the overcrowded conditions at the school. The school is currently squeezing 73 teachers inro 54 teaching spaces. Four four special educators now share one classroom, she said. More classrooms are needed for the middle school, which is expected to grow. "We're using all our available space, including closets," she said. (See story in May 20 issue, available on the web.)
After a very short discussion, voters approved the requested $50,000 for a school master plan study.
A brief slide presentation by Regional School Committee member Michael Fitzgerald summarized the well-known fact that the high school facilities are in serious disrepair. Article 6, which requested $590,000 (to be split between Carlisle and Concord according to the enrollment ration) for replacement of the upper gym bleachers, the outdoor field bleachers, and a canopy between buildings I and H, passed easily.
Reporters Darlene D'Amour and Cecile Sandwen contributed to this article.
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