Friday, January 19, 2007
Town should be fair
To the Editor:
As an employee of the Town of Carlisle for approximately 12 years, it has always been my pleasure to serve this community. I have experienced first-hand the genuine friendships that have developed between the residents and the Carlisle Police Department. I have seen many of your children grow from eager fifth-grade DARE students to young adolescents.
As a Carlisle Police officer, I have responded to a variety of calls, worked many weekends/odd hours, spent several holidays away from my family and sacrificed myself in many other ways for the sake of this community. I have done all of these things willingly for two reasons: 1. I sincerely enjoy working as a police officer, not just any police officer, but a Carlisle Police officer. 2. The town has always been fair when it negotiated a contract, which compensated the members of the Police Department for the nature of police work — until now.
In recent negotiations, the Carlisle Police Union asked for wage increases (for an eight-member union) that were consistent with wage increases for all other town employees. The town, after hiring a professional negotiator at a cost of approximately $18,000, responded with an offer that was less than the 3% cost of living increase. The increased cost of health insurance alone to town employees this year was approximately 12.5%. The current proposal from the town would not only make it hard for officers to provide for their families, it would force some of them to seek new or additional employment.
If you or someone you know has been positively impacted by a member of the Carlisle Police Department, please show your support. We are not asking for much. We are only asking the town to be fair.
Sgt. Scott Barnes
Officers need a fair contract
To the Editor:
I have been a member of the Carlisle Police Department for over 14 years now. In all that time I have striven to be a professional police officer and have always given my all. In return the Town of Carlisle has always been fair, until now.
The police union has been without a contract for over 18 months, while other town employee contracts (teachers, school administrators, Police Chief, Police Lieutenant, Town Administrator) have been settled in a timely manner. I don't feel negotiating a contract for an eight-member union should be so difficult; it is a fairly basic contract and process.
The addition of a professional negotiator this year has hampered the process and caused an unnecessary expense. The professional negotiator's fees (about $18,000) will be more than the benefits received by the union. His presence has hampered the process and will also impact future contracts for some time to come. He is known for his drawn-out negotiations that often result in mediation and arbitration. Perhaps that was the intended result.
The Police Department used to be one of high turnover because of the poor quality of benefits. The union members want to keep well-trained, educated, veteran officers on the department and feel the benefits we've negotiated into our contract over the past 15 years help accomplish this. Why now does the town want to take back a lot of the benefits that serve to retain the quality officers we're able to attract? The present contract is fair; what the town wants to turn it into is not.
I am dedicated to the Carlisle Police Department and don't want to see the department and the town negatively affected by this. I have worked as a full-time officer for over 13 years now with only a few dozen weekends off. I work nights, holidays, overtime and I'm even forced to work when no one is available. The benefits negotiated in the current contract help to compensate for some of the negative aspects of the job.
Sgt. Kevin Cardonne
Member local 201
Thanks for holiday cheer
To the Editor:
Thank you to the parishioners of St. Irene Church for their thoughtfulness and gifts this holiday. Also to the Carlisle Women's Club and Carlisle COA representative for thinking of Ed and coordinating this. It was greatly appreciated.
Best wishes for the New Year.
Ed Jenney's family
Update on Center Park
To the Editor:
Thanks to the generosity of all donors, the Carlisle Center Park project has reached 83% of its $70,000 fundraising goal. We are hopeful that others will be inspired to help raise the last $12,000 to create a beautiful park that will also enhance the charm of the town center. At www.carlisle.org/centerpark.htm, you will see the park design and Campaign for Carlisle Center Park information. Please note our "treeometer" ad in this issue designed by Carlisle artist, Lesia Shaw.
We are grateful to those who have contributed so far and to those who will send their gifts soon.
Susan Pepple,Campaign Co-Chair
Friends of Carlisle Center Park
Separate tax rates for land and building
To the Editor:
I would like to draw attention to a perverse aspect of our real estate tax system which rears its head whenever we have a property revaluation, as occurred last year. Property valuations rise continuously, and over the three-year period between property valuations, the increase is such that the tax rate must be lowered in the following year to hold the average tax increase within the 2 1/2% cap. The effect of the decreased tax rate is unfairly distributed among taxpayers. While the average tax increase is 2 1/2%, homeowners with modest properties will pay much more than this and those with properties of value of about $ 1.1M or more will actually have a tax decrease. Some examples will illustrate how the tax change from 2006 to 2007 varies with property value. The tax has a strong regressive characteristic and affects primarily the older residents in town who live on fixed pensions.
Consider three properties with valuations of $470,100, $1,011,500 and $1,500,000 in 2006. It is assumed that the land value is the same for all three properties. I have used $348,500, the land value of my property, which is a typical two-acre lot. In 2006, the tax rate was $12.99 per $1,000 and the taxes on the three properties are $6,106.60, $13,139.39 and $19,485. In 2007, the land value increased by 25% to $435,600; the tax rate decreased to $11.96, and the taxes are $6,564.84, $13,139.26 and $18,981.72. The percentage changes in taxes from 2006 to 2007 are +7.5%, 0% and -2.7%. In dollar terms, the taxes on the lowest valued property rose about $500, and the taxes on the highest valued property dropped about $500. Effectively, there is a transfer of about $500 from one taxpayer to another.
In the years between revaluations, the tax rate increases and the tax increase is the same for all taxpayers percentage-wise. There is no correction for the inequity in the year following revaluation.
The root cause for the anomaly in the real estate tax system is the volatility of the land value. The solution is to establish separate tax rates for land and building. Then a decrease of tax rate on land will not reduce the tax on a building, and taxes on land will be assessed equitably.
Stop cell tower plan
To the Editor:
One does not have to look any further than the user manual for their cell phone to find a cautionary warning about the dangers of the RF radiation from a cell phone. The government sets limits on the maximum allowable exposure of RF radiation on the human body; however these limits are based on the thermal heating effect, as opposed to the non-thermal hazards of radiation. Furthermore, the government safety limits make no distinction between a child and an adult. So with these facts in mind, I was disappointed to read a legal notice in the January 13 Mosquito referring to a proposed 62 foot cell tower to be placed at 27 School Street (The Unitarian Church / Red Balloon Pre-School) which is right next door to the Carlisle Public School property. A cell tower located at the Unitarian Church would be in close proximity to where our children play in the Castle playground and spend their school days.
I understand that not everyone is concerned about the dangers of radiation from cell towers, but there is enough uncertainty about the long term effects of low dose radiation on children, that it is prudent to be cautious when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. Cell towers should not be placed on or near school property.
I would encourage the members of the Unitarian Church not to move forward with the proposed cell tower on their property.
Speaker to tell of Guantanamo experiences
To the Editor:
For over a hundred years the Statue of Liberty has symbolized America, not only to us here but to all of humanity. Who can forget the replica of it fashioned by the Chinese students in Tienanmen Square in 1989? That "lamp beside the golden door" has been a beacon of hope to the world, expressing our commitment as a nation to justice and freedom.
Today, we offer the world a new symbol of America: the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Over 400 men have been held there for five years. They have been charged with no crime, nor, apparently, will they ever be. According to our officials, only a handful will be tried before military commissions where the U.S. government can present "classified" evidence that the defendants cannot refute. The rest will stay there indefinitely, with no access to basic procedural rights, including the most basic of all — the right of habeas corpus.
Why? Because these prisoners are not U.S. citizens, and are not technically being held on American soil. To the simple question, "If we have evidence that any of these prisoners has committed crimes, why can we not subject them to a court martial or a civilian trial?" There has been no sensible answer.
Many people feel this is a travesty of justice and a moral stain on our country. I am one of them. But few of us have any first-hand knowledge of the actual conditions at Guantanamo or the true stories of the detainees.
At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 28, at the First Religious Society in Carlisle, Stephen Oleskey will talk about his experiences as a lawyer representing six Bosnian detainees at Guantanamo. Steve is a senior partner at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr in Boston, and has volunteered his services to his clients for the last four years. I urge you to come to the FRS on January 28 to hear about what is being done in our name inside America's gulag.
Seniors invited to a Girl Scout Memory Tea
To the Editor:
One of the most rewarding aspects of our selling Girl Scout (GS) cookies for the last seven years has been hearing from our customers how much Girl Scouting and cookie selling have meant to several generations. Many customers have shared with us their stories of the rewards of being long-time customers, Scout leaders, Scout moms and dads, and even Girl Scouts themselves.
Next Sunday, January 28, at 2 p.m. in the Sleeper Room at Carlisle Village Court, our seventh grade troop would like to honor the senior citizens in the Carlisle community with a Memory Tea and Cookie Tasting Party.We invite all seniors to come and sample some luscious teas as well as enjoy the various flavors of GS cookies.Bring a friend, bring your GS memories, and bring any GS memorabilia you might have tucked away to share with our troop and their moms.Please join us for a warm and friendly tea party.
Carlisle Troop #2645 and their moms: Emma Frodigh, Rachel O'Keefe, Emily Ramnarine, Talia Sherwood, Lauren Tierney, Teresa Ventura. Leader: Kathy Simpson and Cookie Coordinator:Linda Myers-Tierney
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