Friday, November 6, 2009
BOS, FinCom face tradeoffs in FY11 budget
Finance Committee (FinCom) Chair Dave Guarino and Finance Director Larry Barton met with the Selectmen on October 27 to discuss town finances. Dominant phrases used were: “hard tradeoffs” and “budget cuts.” The FinCom has asked department heads and committees to send them detail with a narrative of what the impact would be of a 10% budget cut for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11). The due date for this information is today, November 6.
Zero-growth for Carlisle School
Selectman Doug Stevenson asked about the schedule for actually setting budgets. Guarino responded, “We will be meeting with different departments throughout the fall. In early January we will send the guideline letter and then meet with departments before setting budgets.” In response to a question from Selectman Bill Tice, Guarino suggested that the same reduction “across the board” for all boards is unlikely. A distinct exception is the Carlisle Public School. Here a zero-growth goal is set. Selectmen Chair Tim Hult said, ”Zero [growth] there is quite a bit of work.” Barton added that Concord Public Schools are also working toward a zero-growth goal.
Hult reported on a recent joint chairs meeting with Concord where the budget for Concord-Carlisle High School was discussed. “I would describe that meeting as tense.” He said that the initial proposed budget “results in a 17% increase in the amount of money that we will send to the high school.” Guarino interjected that the increasing assessment ratio (larger proportion of students from Carlisle) “is 45% of the problem.” Hult continued, “Larry [Barton] has prepared a scenario with the [Carlisle] Finance Committee suggesting a lower increase for their budget.” Barton said that the original budget proposal called for a 6.1% increase over the current year. “We ratcheted it down to 4% for discussion purposes. And that lowered Carlisle’s assessment for operations from a little over $912K to $777K.” Hult indicated that he will send a letter to the joint chairs suggesting this reduction.
Hult suggested that we may see three school renovation projects on the Spring Town Meeting Warrant: the Carlisle Public School renovation, a design project for CCHS, and a feasibility study for Minuteman Regional. He said that all 16 towns involved in Minuteman will have to opt-in for that $1.2 million study to move forward.
More cuts from the state
When contacted after the meeting Barton cautioned that recent pronouncements by the Governor Patrick regarding not cutting state aid to cities and towns relate only to Chapter 70 aid to education and to unrestricted government aid. He said that Patrick is seeking expanded powers to make further reductions in what it left of Quinn Bill funding and in reducing “payment in lieu of taxes” that the state pays to cities and towns for state-owned property – a potential $80,000 hit to Carlisle. The Quinn Bill is an education incentive program that supplements the salaries of police officers who receive college degrees and complete advanced course work. ∆
© 2009 The