Friday, February 3, 2006
Rising budgets reflect 40B, preparedness demands
As the Finance Committee (FinCom) hears budget proposals for the next fiscal year from Carlisle's town boards and departments, the same story repeats itself. Everyone needs more help — more people-hours — to deal with federal, state and local mandates such as emergency preparedness and 40B review and development. The typical budget presented at Monday night's FinCom budget hearing included a 3.5% salary increase for town employees and requested an additional four to eight hours per week of staff help.
Carlisle Building Inspector Bob Koning anticipates a large increase in the number of inspections that will be required to complete the wastewater treatment plant at the Carlisle Public School, as well as potential new projects such as the proposed 56-unit 40B affordable housing development ("Coventry Woods") on Concord Street, or a cell tower on Bedford Road. In order to provide level services in FY07, he proposed that the building inspector's office be open three days per week, rather than the current two. Permit fees, which currently are placed in the town's General Fund, will more than cover the additional labor costs.
Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Barton proposed that a defined portion of permit fees (for example the first $60,000, or 25%) be placed in a revolving fund, such as the 53E1/2 funds used by other town permitting authorities. Expenses related to the permitting process would then be paid out of the fund. Since revolving funds do not show up in the operating budget, this would reduce the year-to-year variability in the building inspector's budget. FinCom member Dave Trask will work with Barton to further explore the revolving account.
Barton's "Growth Budget" included additional hours for part-time staff, as well as $4,149 to cover approximately five days of professional training on the use of systems software, which would allow his department to function "more smoothly."
Barton also informed the committee that Governor Romney's proposed budget recommends $1,826,692 in state aid for Carlisle, approximately $45,000 more than expected. FinCom members agreed to use the governor's figure, recognizing that the state aid number may not be finalized until late June or July.
Planning Board treasurer Brian Larson briefly reviewed the board's current activities relating to preparing amendments to bylaws governing Personal Wireless Service facilities and Affordable Accessory Apartments. Since cell tower and affordable housing demands are expected to increase in the coming year, the board's "Level Services Budget" requests three additional hours per week for office support personnel.
Board of Health
Board of Health (BOH) Chair Martha Bedrosian reviewed the board's mission, mentioning traditional roles overseeing and permitting well and septic design, permitting food establishments, inspecting and licensing barns, and providing for community health with services such as the flu clinic, rabies clinic and hazardous waste collections. Recently the board, especially BOH Agent Linda Fantasia, has spent hours on public health emergency preparedness and planning, including meetings and training sessions required by federal and state emergency management authorities. The board's "level services budget" asks for a 3% increase in contractual public health nursing services as well as a five-hour-per-week increase for the administrative assistant.
FinCom members expressed their hope that the FY07 budget will be able to cover all above requests. A first draft of the FY07 budget will be prepared as soon as all cost centers, especially the Carlisle School and regional high schools, present their budgets.
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