Friday, May 14, 2010
Town Meeting approves all but Article 20 on CPA
School projects, fire truck and CPA future require additional votes at Town Election on Tuesday, May 18
Building project feasibility studies were funded for both the Concord-Carlisle and Minuteman Technical High Schools, as all but Warrant Article 20 passed at Annual Town Meeting on Monday evening, May 10. Article 20, the referendum on the future of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) real estate tax surcharge, failed to win a majority after a significant exchange of views.
Attendance was lighter than usual and the 210 voters approved most items unanimously. Major funding appropriations included a total operating budget of $23,144,540 approved for fiscal year FY11; borrowing of $410,000 to replace a fire truck; and CPA spending of $165,000 for restoration of the Cranberry Bog House. The other item to generate debate was Article 28 on adoption of the “stretch” building code, which passed late in the evening by a margin of 79 to 68.
Barbara Lewis of East Riding Drive served as assistant moderator in the cafeteria, which was wired for audiovisuals for the benefit of parents bringing young children.
Before Moderator Wayne Davis began consideration of the Warrant Articles, Board of Selectmen (BOS) Chair Tim Hult called for a moment of silence in recognition of the recent death of Tyler Ryan, an 18-year-old student at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) who took his own life on April 28. In addition, Hult thanked town volunteers and employees who have recently ended their service. In particular, he thanked former Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie who retired this past year and Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle who is leaving at the end of June to become superintendent of the Longmeadow school district.
Article 1: Town reports
With passage of this Article, Town Meeting accepted the 2009 Town Report, which includes information provided yearly by the Town Clerk, departments, boards, committees and schools. Copies are available free of charge at Town Hall.
The Annual Town Meeting of 2004 voted to require that the Town Administrator report annually on any secret inquiries about Carlisle residents made by the federal government under the USA PATRIOT Act. The Act was passed after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Town Administrator Tim Goddard said, “The town is not aware of any residents detained pursuant to the Patriot Act since the last report made to the town at Town Meeting.” In a conversation after the meeting he also stated, “There have been no inquiries under the USA PATRIOT Act during the past year.”
Article 2 - 9: Consent agenda and routine Articles
Under Article 2, Town Meeting agreed to use a consent agenda to speed voting on routine Articles 3 – 9 by grouping them into a single vote. Because Article 9 involved borrowing, the entire consent agenda needed a 2/3 majority for passage. The vote was unanimous.
Under Article 3, the salary of the Town Clerk ($53,640) was approved, along with token salaries for the assessors ($100) and moderator ($50). A sum of $5,000 was appropriated under Article 4 for Board of Assessors’ expenses related to the real estate revaluation. The revaluation is required every three years and a portion of the cost is requested each year. Article 5 appropriated $4,000 for actuarial services required by the state. Article 6 covered the annual reauthorization of revolving accounts which hold fees collected by 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 authorized the transfer of $24,071 from reserves for the payment of debt service for the Carlisle School.
Article 9 - Road repairs
Article 9 authorized the town to borrow $202,655 for the improvement of roads in anticipation of state Chapter 90 reimbursement. There was no discussion, but Goddard later explained that towns normally try to maintain a schedule of road maintenance, where a road is completely overlaid every 20 years, but may be patched more frequently. Current projects, he said, include repairs to Russell Street, Fisk Street and a section of Lowell Street. The new funds will be used in the coming year to repair another section of Lowell Street as well as sections of East and Cross Streets.
Article 10: Not moved
Warrant Article 10 regarding FY10 budget transfers between departments was not needed.
Article 11: Operating budget
Finance Committee (FinCom) Chair David Guarino gave a brief overview of the requested FY11 operating budget of $23,144,540. He said the balanced-budget increase of 3.5% was covered by the 2.5% real estate tax increase allowed under proposition 2-1/2, as well as revenue from new homes and a $219,828 transfer from free cash. The largest components of the budget include: Education (65%), General Government (19.8%), Insurance and Retirement Benefits (8%) and Debt Service and Other (7.2%). “This is a success story,” said Hult, who thanked the FinCom, boards and committees, and town employees for working together to control costs in an environment of decreasing state aid.
John Ballantine of Fisk Street asked how the compensation of non-contractual employees in the proposed budget compared to other towns. FinCom member Dave Model answered that the BOS and FinCom have recommended a 2% salary increase for non-contractual employees.
The budget passed unanimously.
Article 12: Capital equipment
Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee Chair Don Rober explained the $218,680 requested for capital equipment and improvements. The sum included $14,680 for energy-efficiency upgrades to lighting and insulation at Town Hall, which Rober said was expected to save enough energy to pay for the upgrades within three years. The amount of $25,000 was requested for Carlisle School maintenance work, $47,000 for a new one-ton truck for the Department of Public Works and $32,000 for a new police cruiser. Rober explained that the cruisers are typically replaced every three years. Additional capital expenditures included: $45,000 for a new fiber-optic communications cable for police, fire and municipal purposes; $47,000 for new air bottles for the Fire Department; and $8,000 to replace eight computers at the Gleason Library. There were no questions and the motion passed unanimously.
Article 13: Cisterns
This Article appropriated $20,000 for the purchase and installation of Fire Department cisterns. Rober explained that a previous Town Meeting had approved $200,000 for the construction of two cisterns, but, after the first was built on Oak Knoll Road, it was determined that this additional funding would be needed to complete the project. The second cistern is to be located at the Fire Station.
Article 14: Fire truck replacement
Town Meeting authorized borrowing $410,000 to replace the Fire Department’s Engine 6, which is over 20 years old. Endorsed by the Selectmen, FinCom and Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee, the motion required a two-thirds majority and passed easily by voice vote, with a single negative vote. Authorization is contingent upon passage of Question 3 at the Town Election on May 18.
Article 15: Technology Stabilization Fund for CCHS
Articles 16 and 17: High school feasibility studies
Articles 18 and 19: Professional services
Under Article 18 Town Meeting appropriated $3,500 for the Council on Aging (COA) to be used for professional services for social service counseling. Article 19 approved $5,000 for use by the Planning Board for professional consultant services related to town planning and bylaw review.
Articles 20 and 21: CPA future and annual spending
Article 22: Stabilization transfer
Selectman Doug Stevenson explained that a $300,000 agricultural grant was received after the town’s 1999 purchase of the Robbins-Hutchins Fields (a.k.a Wang-Coombs Land), located at the corner of Fisk and Curve Streets. The grant was placed in the Stabilization Fund and this routine Article transfers $14,948 from the Stabilization Fund to pay principal and interest on the debt from the property’s purchase.
Articles 23 and 24: Free Cash transfers
Article 23 authorized the transfer of $75,000 from Free Cash to the town’s Stabilization Fund. Selectman Peter Scavongelli explained that moving surplus funds to the Stabilization Fund was a way to improve the town’s financial position and help ensure a favorable bond rating. The motion required a two-thirds majority and passed unanimously.
Under Article 24, $219,828 was transferred from Free Cash to balance the town’s FY11 operating budget.
Article 25 and 26: Wetland/Flood Hazard District Zoning Bylaw changes
Town Administrator Tim Goddard explained that the bylaw amendments and acceptance of new Wetland/Flood Hazard District maps were required for continued participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. He said that the 100-year flood zones on the maps were unchanged. He said, “No homeowner is adversely affected” by the Warrant Articles.
Article 27: Site Plan Review Zoning Bylaw change
Hult explained that the purpose of the Site Plan Review Zoning Bylaw was to provide a mechanism for the town to review projects that do not fall under the normal residential review process. The Planning Board helps coordinate review by other boards and synthesizes their findings, while the Selectmen have responsibility for the final approval.
One goal of the bylaw, Hult said, is to balance the applicant’s need to go forward with the town’s need for review of a project that might impact abutters. The revisions are listed on pages 23 – 27 of the Warrant book mailed to residents. He said the revisions help streamline the process and move many requirements from the bylaw into separate rules and regulations, which can be updated by the Selectmen. Review of a project’s construction management was also added.
Larry Bearfield of North Road said that he has gone through the site review process twice as a proprietor of Ferns Country Store and supported the Article. Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky asked whether section 184.108.40.206 of the bylaw would affect the development of affordable housing. The section, which had not been modified under Article 27, lists construction of multi-family housing as subject to Site Plan Review. However, Planning Board Chair David Freedman said that the comprehensive permit process used by affordable housing developments supersedes local zoning regulations. Since the Site Plan Review is a Zoning Bylaw, it would be eclipsed by the comprehensive permit process and the Benfield multi-family affordable housing, for example, would be exempt. The bylaw revision was approved unanimously.
Article 28: Stretch Code
For details on the presentation and discussion, see “Carlisle adopts stretch building code,”
Only 147 people voted on Article 28, which passed by a margin of 79 to 68. The Town Meeting quorum requirement is 150. When Town Clerk Charlene Hinton was later asked whether the small vote mattered, she said that there was no way to tell how many people had left before the vote at 11:20 p.m., or how many had chosen to abstain after listening to the hour-long debate. If someone had called for a head count and found a quorum was missing, Town Meeting would have had to be continued to another night in order to finish voting on the last three Articles. As it was, no one asked for a count and the meeting concluded a few minutes later after the rapid passage of Articles 29 and 30.
Article 29: Pathway easements
This Article authorized the Selectmen to acquire pathway easements in the Hanover Hill subdivision off Westford Street, supplementing similar easements accepted by Town Meeting last year.
Article 30: Rail Trail easements
In anticipation of future easements, Article 30 authorized the Selectmen to acquire and accept easements on the railroad right-of-way (847.2 feet) located in Carlisle for inclusion in Phase 2 of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. After passing the Article unanimously, Annual Town Meeting adjourned shortly before 11:30 p.m. ∆
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