Friday, January 22, 2010
Board of Selectmen shorts, January 12
• Finances dominate discussion. Once again the Selectmen devoted a full hour on the agenda to consider finances. Chairman Tim Hult called the projected $150,000 override earmarked for regional high school spending “the elephant in the room.” The Selectmen have determined that town departments cannot make cost of living adjustments in salaries and have asked them to identify ways to reduce budgets by 10%. The Finance Committee, in a letter dated December 28, believes that the full 10% cut may not be necessary because state aid “has not fallen off as precipitously as initially feared” and due to “new housing growth.” However, the town will need to make up $150,000 in either an override at Town Meeting or by using Free Cash. Selectman Doug Stevenson noted, “It’s not a choice to the taxpayers on whether we spend the money or not.” Hult agreed, and positioned the Selectmen as still in the information-gathering process to consider alternatives and make the best recommendation to the town based on projected long-term expenditures.
• Open space plan. The Carlisle Conservation Commission would like to accept the offer made by the state’s Executive Office of Environment Affairs (EOEA) to extend Carlisle’s Open Space and Recreation Plan by two years by updating the plan with new information. The Selectmen will review the plan, and address any changes they would like to make at the January 26 meeting. The Conservation Commission would like to receive proposed changes no later than January 29.
• Well-testing contract. The town must retain a certified public water system operator to test and monitor the wells at town hall and at the library to main compliance with state regulations due to retirement of the person conducting the work. Town administrator Tim Goddard researched the job and found no individual currently employed by the town certified to conduct the work. He recommended the town accept a yearly contract with Small Water Systems Services (SWSS), LLC for $4,000. The Selectmen unanimously approved the contract.
• Town needs survey concludes. The final discussion of the town survey results took place with a focus on quality of life issues. Jim Elgin of East Riding Drive, John Ballantine of Fiske Street and Alan Cameron of School Street spoke for the committee in summarizing the results. The town authorized spending up to $25,000 on the effort in 2008 using CPA funds, but with volunteers stepping up to the task, the committee only expended $7,000. The survey, targeted at adults, received responses from 1788 townspeople and 96% reported a “very high quality of life” in town. The respondents reported the factors most affecting their satisfaction included the town’s rural nature (94%), friends (78%), and proximity to medical care (73%). The largest negative factor about living in town reported was the cost of living (67%). Factors cited that would improve life in town included reduction of taxes, established of a gathering place, continued protection of open space and more housing options.
• Fire department expenditure. The Selectmen unanimously approved the expenditure of $500 by the fire department to cover the town’s insurance deductible due to a collision involving the town’s ambulance and another emergency vehicle.
• Ethics commission liaison. The Selectmen unanimously appointed Town Clerk Charlene Hinton as the official contact to the States Ethics Commission. This past summer the Commonwealth’s Conflict of Interest law required communities to select a senior-level employee for the task.
• Educational appointment. The Selectmen unanimously appointed Thornton Ash of Nowell Farme Road as the town’s designated task force member at the Minuteman Regional High School of a group that will recommend possible changes to the district agreement by September. ∆
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