The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 30, 2010

Town departments to return $665,000 in unspent funds

Thanks to a little luck and some careful attention to spending, $665,000 allocated to the Carlisle town budget was not spent in FY10. The budget year closed on June 30. The unspent sum is made up of funds from several areas, reflecting a Town Hall where frugality is valued and good fortune occasionally shines.

Town departments will return over $100,000 in unspent appropriations; $24,000 from the Police Department, $23,000 from the DPW, $17,000 from the Council on Aging, $30,000 from Town Hall and administration, and $8,000 from the capital budget. Another $100,000 was saved at the Carlisle School during the change in business manager. Group insurance and workman’s comp returned $200,000 partly due to implementation of a rate-savers plan chosen by some employees. A proposal by Treasurer Larry Barton to refinance the town’s debt saved $48,000 in interest, and another $50,000 set aside for Town Counsel was unspent because potential lawsuits did not materialize.

The Reserve Fund, which provides emergency monies, was budgeted at $150,000 and required only $20,824.71. Of that, $16,824.71 was transferred to the Fire Department to cover a well pump replacement and extra hours to assist residents during the early spring flooding. Town Administrator Tim Goddard noted that Carlisle will receive $35,000 to $40,000 from FEMA some time in the fall to compensate for losses due to the storms. Another $3,800 was transferred to the Conservation Commission to cover the cost of a Curve Street dam inspection mandated by the state. Finally, $200 was transferred to cover state and county assessments that exceeded what had been projected.

Barton noted that revenues were in line with projections for FY10. However, in FY11 there may be trouble in the area of new real estate growth, which is not calculated until the end of September. This number, projected at $15 million, will likely be “less than we hoped it would be,” according to Board of Assessors Chair Jim Marchant. A shortfall of $2 to $3 million would mean tens of thousands of dollars less tax revenue in FY11. Marchant notes that in spite of optimistic reports that real estate is recovering, “I have a funny feeling things are not that good.” There has been an uptick due to the stimulus funds, but now that that program has expired, “a lot of people are saying things have stabilized, but I don’t see it right now,” he said.

Most of the funds unspent in FY10 will go to the Free Cash account where they will be available if needed in next year. At a meeting Tuesday, Barton said the town’s Free Cash balance will be over $1.6 million after state certification. He noted that Free Cash is “like a form of savings account, useful for one-time capital purchases.” Transfers from Free Cash require a majority vote at Town Meeting.

In a phone conversation Tuesday, Finance Committee Vice Chair Jerry Lerman said that he is grateful the town will be able to open the new fiscal year with a healthy cash balance to cushion any blows in the future. “I want to thank all the departments for their diligence in keeping at or below their budget numbers,” he added. ∆

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