Friday, May 8, 2009
Carlisle 2009 Town Meeting roundup
Annual Town Meeting of May 4 took the following actions:
Article 1 Town reports, omission
With passage of this Article, Town Meeting accepted the 2008 Town Report. The 176-page document includes information from the Town Clerk, departments, boards, committees and schools and is available free of charge at Town Hall.
The USA PATRIOT Act report was omitted. When asked for the reason the next day,Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie said, “I had one ready, but it just didn’t get called up.” She then said, “There have been no inquiries under the USA PATRIOT Act during the past year.” According to Article 24 of the Annual Town Meeting of 2004, the town administrator is directed to provide a yearly summary of secret inquiries made at Town Hall under the USA PATRIOT Act, federal legislation passed after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Article 2 Consent agenda
New this year, Town Meeting agreed to use a consent agenda, grouping routine Articles 3 – 7 into a single vote. Raftery explained that if anyone had wished to debate one of the articles, they were to call “Hold” when he read the motion and it would be removed from the group and voted separately.
Article 3 - 8 Routine articles
The salary of the Town Clerk ($52,558) was approved, along with token annual salaries for the assessors ($100) and Moderator ($50) under Article 3.
With Article 4, Town Meeting voted $5,000 for the Board of Assessors to use for the real estate revaluation required every three years. Article 5 appropriated $4,000 for actuarial services required by the state every two years. Article 6 was an annual reauthorization of revolving accounts which hold fees collected by various town boards and departments. Under Article 7, voters renewed approval for the town to grant an exemption for increases in the real estate tax for qualifying seniors and disabled citizens.
Article 8 was a housekeeping article authorizing the transfer of $72,000 from FY09 Insurance and Benefits to the FY09 Reserve Fund.
Article 9 Operating budget
There were no questions on the $22.5 million operating budget for FY10. Tim Hult spoke for the Selectmen, thanking the FinCom and town departments for their cooperation in staying within the levy limit imposed by Proposition 2-1/2. He said, “The manner in which it was handled was not only professional, it was skillful and I’d like to offer my congratulations.”
As described in the Warrant Book, the largest components of the budget include: Education (63%), Protection of Persons and Property (8.1%), Long Term Debt (6%), Insurance and Benefits (5.3%), General Government (4.6%) and Public Works (4.4%).
Article 10 Capital equipment
Don Rober of the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee (LTCRC) explained the $239,000 requested for capital equipment and improvements for town departments and the Carlisle School. Requests for the Carlisle School included: computer equipment - $100,000; annual maintenance - $25,000; Spalding roof repair - $10,000; and a new cafeteria dishwasher - $30,000.
The Fire Department asked for $25,000 for equipment and Police requested $36,000 for a new cruiser and digital communications radio, as well as $13,000 to replace a boiler.
James Cross of Indian Hill Road asked for information on police vehicle utilization. Police Chief John Sullivan explained the department fleet includes three regular-line cruisers, two of which are usually in use 24/7. After three years, a cruiser is taken out of regular use and kept as a back-up. The older back-up vehicles are used for work out of town, when providing assistance to other police departments through the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) rapid-response program.
Susan Stamps of Cross Street asked if the new cruiser would be a hybrid vehicle. Sullivan responded that the department had not yet found one that met their price and performance requirements.
At about this time the overflow audience in the cafeteria lost audio communication with the main gathering in the auditorium. During a pause while people moved to the auditorium, Alan Lehotsky of West Street took the opportunity to welcome “several new American citizens who are attending their first Town Meeting.”
Article 11 Carlisle School plans
See “Carlisle School building project moves ahead” on page 1.
Article 12 CCHS renovations
See “Carlisle approves share of $750,000 for CCHS capital improvements” on page 5.
Article 13 DPW truck
Town Meeting authorized $154,000 for a new DPW roll-off truck. A debt exclusion, it also requires passage of ballot Question 3 at Town Election on May 12. Nancy Kronenberg of Wolf Rock Road asked about Carlisle’s total debt load, and Larry Barton, Town Finance Director, replied that the current debt “is something less than $7 million.” He added that as of last December, Moody’s rating service has reaffirmed the town’s bond rating of AA2.
Article 14 Fire cisterns
The $60,000 approved for the construction of new Fire Department cisterns is contingent upon approval of Ballot Question 4 at Town Election. The Selectmen, FinCom and LTCRC all supported the Article and Selectman John Williams said, “At some point additional cisterns can give Carlisle a better insurance rating.”
Article 15 COA services
Hult explained the request for $7,000 for part-time social service counseling for town residents, which had been provided through a grant last year.
Article 16 - 18 Fund transfers
Under Article 16 Town Meeting approved transferring $20,149 from reserves for the payment of debt service. FinCom Chair Dave Model explained that because of a prepayment, the town has money in reserves for paying down debt for previous school building projects. This article allowed the transfer of these funds.
Article 17 Stabilization transfer
During discussion of Article 17, BOS Chair Doug Stevenson explained that a $300,000 agricultural grant was received after the town purchased the Robbins-Hutchins Fields (formerly Wang-Coombs Land). The grant was placed in the Stabilization Fund and Article 17 is an annual transfer from the Stabilization Fund of the amount needed to pay debt from the property’s purchase.
Hult explained that Article 18 is the first of three planned $75,000 transfers from Free Cash to replenish the Stabilization Fund, which was drawn down by $225,000 last year to pay for a court settlement. Model said, “In some sense this is moving from one pocket to another, but we feel it is a prudent step.”
Article 19 authorized the transfer of $104,625 from Free Cash to fund the FY10 budget and avoid the need for an override. Model said the town has a certified balance of close to $1 million in Free Cash, and this is expected to go up at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. He said that the $200,000 in Free Cash under Articles 18 and 19 would not significantly change the town’s Free Cash position.
Article 20 Road repairs
Voters authorized spending $197,198 for road maintenance in anticipation of reimbursement by the state. It was announced that roads on the list to be repaired in the coming fiscal year were: Church Street, Fiske Street, Russell Street and a portion of Lowell Street. When Lehotsky asked that West Street be added to the list, Stevenson replied that West Street was on last year’s list, but has not yet been repaired. Last year Town Meeting voted repairs for Bedford Road, Westford and Stearns Streets.
Article 21 Transfer of Highland
See “Old Lady Highland gets a new life...for now” on page 1.
Article 22 CPA funding
Community Preservation Committee Chair Kelly Guarino presented the five motions under Article 22, which dealt with funds collected under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). All the motions were passed.
Town groups may apply to use CPA funds for open space and recreation, historic preservation or community housing. The committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to Town Meeting, which makes the final decisions on how the money is allocated. Guarino noted that in recent years the CPA funds have been used for small projects, but this year’s recommendations include two larger projects for Gleason Library and the Highland Building.
The routine Motion 1 passed quickly, transferring $239,446 from the FY09 CPA budget reserve to the Community Preservation Historic Reserve Fund. Motion 2 appropriated $775,000 to fund library repairs (see “Gleason Library restoration project passed at Town Meeting,” page 5).
Motion 3 was another routine motion allocating estimated revenues to various CPA accounts: $44,748 for community housing; $209,312 for historic preservation; and $2,000 for administrative expenses. No funds were moved to the open space account; instead $191,420 will be used to pay for the Benfield Land principal and interest.
Under Motion 4, Town Meeting appropriated $16,610 from CPA undesignated funds to be used for updating the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan. Guarino explained, “It’s a plan that’s prepared every five years. The purpose is to provide a regular process for the citizens of Carlisle to review their recreation and open space needs.” She added that the plan is used by departments and committees; for example, the Affordable Housing Committee incorporates the material as part of their plan.
Motion 5 appropriated funding for the Highland Building preservation (see “Old Lady Highland gets a new life...for now,” page 1).
Article 23 Highland demolition
Passage of Article 22 Motion 5 made Article 23 moot.
Article 24 Town Clerk
This article allowed the inclusion of the position of Town Clerk as an elected official under the town’s workers’ compensation program.
Article 25 Carriage Way
All new town roads, such as Carriage Way, must be accepted at Town Meeting.
Article 26 and 27 Contracts
Both Articles passed unanimously. Under Article 26, Town Meeting authorized the Selectmen to extend the current waste management contract with Wheelabrator North Andover for another five years. The town takes just under 19,000 tons of solid waste a year to the Wheelabrator waste incinerator, where it is burned to generate electricity. Passage of Article 27 gave the Carlisle School Committee permission to enter into a five-year contract for management of the school’s wastewater treatment plant. Town Meeting approval is needed for contracts longer than three years.
Article 28 Easements
There was no discussion of this routine article to accept easements for roads, drainage, fire protection and pathways. The easements are located on properties at 6 Patten Lane, the Hanover Hill development off Westford Street, and pathways along Bedford Road and Westford Street.
Article 29 Land transfer
Voters approved transfer of control of a landlocked one-acre parcel off West Street (Map 5, Parcel 46) from the Selectmen to the Conservation Commission. Commission Chair Tom Shultz explained that the small property had been taken by the town in 1983 for non-payment of taxes. It borders other parcels which are either in conservation or under conservation easement. Warren Lyman of the Land Stewardship Subcommittee said the parcel provides important trail linkages and is part of a wildlife corridor.
Article 30 Dog license
The Selectmen and FinCom, including, it was pointed out, those who are dog-owners, unanimously supported this article authorizing the Town Clerk with BOS approval to set fees and late penalties for dog and kennel licenses.
Article 31 Wetland bylaw
Shultz said, “It will take longer to read than to explain” the Article covering minor changes to the town’s bylaw regulating work in or near wetlands. He explained the changes were “housekeeping to point our bylaw to the latest edition of the state regulations.” It passed unanimously with no discussion.
Article 32 Marijuana fine
See “Marijuana fine dropped” on page 5.
Article 33 Solar and wind power
Hult announced that the Selectmen had “withdrawn without prejudice” the motion regarding bylaw revisions governing alternate energy generation systems such as solar panels and wind turbines. He acknowledged the large amount of work done by the Alternative Energy Generation Committee who drafted the bylaw language, as well as by members of the Planning Board who reviewed the proposal. However, Hult said that it became clear that the bylaw is not ready and the Selectmen agreed it would benefit the town to take more time to study the bylaw proposal and the science behind it.
Article 34 Wireless bylaw
See “Bylaw revision defines wireless facility priorities” on page 6.
When Town Meeting ended at 10:40 p.m. Raftery received a standing ovation for his six years as Town Moderator as well as for the many years he has served Carlisle as a Selectman and member of the Planning Board. ∆
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