Friday, August 27, 2010
Board of Selectmen set goals with focus on finance
Board of Selectmen Chair John Williams opened the annual discussion of the 2010-2011 goals at the August 19 meeting with fiscal aims at the top of the list. Along with Williams and Selectman Doug Stevenson, the entire board attended the goal-setting meeting including Bill Tice, Peter Scavongelli, and John Gorecki, as well as Town Administrator Tim Goddard and Margaret Demare, who handles administrative tasks for the board.
Financial management comes first
Williams began the discussion of goals by reiterating the ongoing difficulty in financing town budget increases. Williams identified the town’s senior citizens as a group responsible for the town’s many successes in past years, and worthy of receiving town services in years to come.
Financial management not only led the list of the Selectmen’s goals, but it also permeated the discussion of subsequent goals.
The Selectmen identified the following key goals in the financial management area:
• Managing Carlisle’s share of the CCHS FY12 and FY13 budget (Williams)
• Developing long-term capital requirements master plan (Stevenson)
• Establish a standing building committee for the town (Tice)
• Financial planning to raise revenue without cutting services (Williams, Gorecki)
• Facilitate ways to help senior residents remain in Carlisle (Stevenson)
• Enhance growth and application of Carlisle trust funds (Williams)
• Review current revenue sources and explore other opportunities (Stevenson, Williams)
In the past, the Selectmen talked about public education in terms of excellence. With education being the top budget expense, they hope that the schools can continue to provide the town’s children and young adults with the same level of education. The Selectmen plan to take an active role in school budget issues, including:
• Managing, with the Carlisle School Building Committee, the school design process and cost (Stevenson)
• Participating actively in the Concord-Carlisle High School Building Committee project (Tice)
• Controlling Special Education expenses (Gorecki)
Affordable housing initiatives
With state legislators reconsidering requirements and restrictions of Chapter 40B on cities and towns, Carlisle may need to revisit affordable housing issues. Williams noted that these issues are of paramount concern to long-time Carlisle residents now looking at retirement and possible relocation from Carlisle due to high taxes and insufficient housing choices. Williams led discussion of the following goals:
• Exploring zoning changes with the Planning Board - smaller homes, cluster zoning, multiple tenants in one home, etc.
• Actively pursuing funding for the Benfield senior housing project
• Creation of a temporary committee to inventory housing choice and report to the Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust
• Exploring expansion of Village Court and possible use of Banta-Davis Land for housing
Other town services
Goals in other areas include:
• Effective and efficient town services – measure quality and effectiveness; joint chairs meeting with land boards, and continuation of technology enhancement to deliver town services (Tice)
• Stable and responsive public utilities and energy conservation – with a review of strategy, focus on energy savings, and integration with the new building committee (Tice)
• Conservation land and open space – work with Chelmsford and Carlisle Conservation Commission to establish maintenance agreement for Cranberry Bog and facilitate renewal of Cranberry Bog lease agreement (Stevenson) and address future of Greenough Land (Tice)
• Safety and security – continue working with fire and police chiefs to improve service and communications operations; successfully negotiate a new long-term police contract (the current contract expires in June, 2011); monitor the Advanced Life Support emergency ambulance service contract.
Enhancing recreation and community activities
The Selectmen realize that recreation and community activities affect townspeople’s desire to live in Carlisle. Goals in this area include:
• Work with Recreation Commission and Council on Aging to review current and future infrastructure needs (Gorecki, Scavongelli)
• Complete Highland Building Stabilization project (Scavongelli)
• Adopt task-force model for pathways maintenance and future development (Stevenson, Scavongelli)
• Identify viability and desirability of community center at village court (Williams, Gorecki)
• Balance town center changes with town’s historical and rural character (Williams, Scavongelli)
Off the list
Sometimes goals are dropped from the list for the next fiscal year because the Selectmen successfully achieved them. For example, several time-consuming goals were completed this year: hiring the new town administrator, identifying funding for and obtaining approval for public school expansion in town, and contributing to a master plan at the regional high school. The Selectmen also endorsed the library building project, and supported the new contract agreement with the teachers. Board members figured in the town’s achievement of all these goals.
Sometimes, however, goals are dropped after more information is gathered. For example, the board will not pursue a wind-energy bylaw in the next year. “I don’t think it’s viable,” concluded Williams referring to the town’s topography. Scavongelli wondered if dropping development of the bylaw was sufficient to stop people from installing wind towers at their home. Stevenson added that lack of a bylaw would have that result: “if not allowed, it is prohibited.”
The Selectmen concluded by wondering about how the townspeople viewed the efficacy of their board. Stevenson asked, “Is the public happy?” He added, “We don’t get that many negative cards” in reference to the comment cards collected in a box at Town Hall. Goddard concurred, and called the Council on Aging the most successful organization in town based on popular feedback.
As the public meeting closed, the Selectmen continued signing up to support various goals. The members aim to have two names beside each objective before the next meeting, thereby strengthening the board’s involvement. Gorecki, the newest member, wondered if he might sign up for some of the financial committees where two names already appeared—often Williams and Stevenson. Williams noted that as the new chair he would rely heavily on Stevenson’s past experience and knowledge in the area of finances in the coming year. Nonetheless, he encouraged Gorecki’s desire to develop expertise in the town’s financial particulars. ∆
© 2010 The