Friday, April 10, 2009
FinCom unanimous in support of Warrant Articles
On March 16 the Finance Committee (FinCom) reviewed the Warrant for Town Meeting May 4, and unanimously voted to support all the Articles that impact the town’s finances. Those Articles include $450,000 for a schematic design for the Carlisle School project, of which Carlisle expects to pay $270,000; $750,000 for Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) improvements and a planning study, of which $225,000 would be paid by Carlisle; a DPW truck expected to cost $150,000; and $60,000 for Town Hall cisterns. The additional spending will be presented as a series of debt exclusions requiring a majority vote at both Town Meeting and Town Elections on May 12. If all these Articles pass, the town could add just over $700,000 to its debt obligations.
FinCom member Jerry Lerman noted the FinCom did not take positions on initiatives funded by the Community Preservation Act (CPA), as these do not impact town obligations and are recommended by the CPA Committee. Those include refurbishment of the Highland Building and repair of the Gleason Library façade. The FinCom will discuss at a later date where funds for demolition of the Highland Building, if necessary, would come from, as CPA funds could not be used for this purpose.
Although the FinCom worked hard to whittle tens of thousands of dollars from departmental budgets to stay within the increase dictated by Proposition 2 ½, the additional debt was seen as “necessary to support services and infrastructure,” says Lerman. He noted that something must be done with the Carlisle School, and “to go forward in a way that the state will share the costs is a good thing.”
At CCHS, “we need to keep the school intact until a decision can be made long-term for the campus.” The high school is requesting auditorium curtains, carpeting and furnishings, air conditioning equipment, bathroom upgrades, fire alarm equipment, and a building study that would map a lower-cost alternative for addressing needs if state funding is not available. Town infrastructure investments deemed necessities included $150,000 for a DPW roll-off truck and $60,000 for fire cisterns.
Another consideration is the possible future availability of government stimulus funds for which some projects at the schools may be eligible. It is hoped these will be announced before Town Meeting so that accommodation can be made. Otherwise, a second Town Meeting might be necessary to accept and allocate the funding, said Lerman. Reached later, Town Treasurer Larry Barton said it is doubtful Carlisle will receive any funds, although “some decisions are still to be made.” He expects any funding to arrive in the form of grants that would not require further Town Meeting action for acceptance.
The FinCom will hold a hearing on Monday, April 27 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. The public is invited to hear information on the budget and to give input. ∆
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