Friday, October 22, 2010
Selectmen chart their course
Chair John Williams thanked the near-capacity group for attending the October 12 Board of Selectmen’s meeting. All were representatives of various town boards and committees. Williams said, “The purpose (of this meeting) is to inform you, our colleagues, of what we are hoping to accomplish this year and, with some goals, beyond – and to ask you for help. Some goals are straightforward and somewhat routine but others are further reaching and complicated. We cannot get things done without everyone’s help.”
At a prior Selectmen’s meeting, goals were enumerated and individual Selectmen were assigned to each. (See “Board of Selectmen set goals with focus on finance,” August 27.) Williams said, “We tried to identify core services and critical attributes that identify Carlisle as Carlisle. Those are schools, library, police and fire safety, DPW and care of the elderly. The Regionalization Committee is looking at health and recreation but it is not intended to stop there. An example of a goal that is more complex is to make it easier for seniors to remain in Carlisle. We need more diversity in housing. That brings up questions of zoning and involves the Planning Board and Board of Health. I haven’t laid out what the obstacles and issues may be. It will take the efforts of many people and a number of boards to accomplish something.”
The town has about $600,000 in trust funds. Williams said, “We’re starting an investment committee to see what the trusts allow. Some are 100-years old so investment policy is antiquated.” He said there might be more money for things like scholarships and fuel assistance.
In responding to several emails received by the Selectmen, he said, “We are not trying to micro-manage special education costs. Two or three ‘budget busters’ have been identified and that was one of them.” Several School Committee members took exception to special education being a separate line in the Selectmen’s list. They stated that much of the cost is due to state-mandated items and that initiation of programs at the local level so that some students did not have to be sent off-site was helping some of the past budget spikes.
Joint chairs meetings with land use boards will be reinstated, probably quarterly. The model to be used is the Finance Team that meets every two weeks for about an hour. Williams said, “It has proven useful to keep everyone up to date.” The group will include representatives from the Planning Board, Board of Health, Conservation Commission, Housing Authority, Recreation Commission and Finance Commission.
Development of a website policy for defining content and making it more useful for the public was suggested. Several attendees criticized the haphazard technical support for technology for Town Hall staff that is supporting the boards and committees. Planning Board Chair David Freedman said, “It is more fixing, than enhancing, that is needed.”
A task force approach, recommended by the recently disbanded Pathways Committee, will be adopted for future pathways.
Williams suggested that serious conversations be held with interested parties on what is acceptable and not acceptable for change in the town center. He offered as examples – expansion of Village Court and desirability of a community center.
It was suggested that the town work toward a maintenance agreement with Chelmsford so that issues such as those experienced with the dam repair at the Cranberry Bog can be resolved. The cranberries are grown in Carlisle; however, related ponds and water control structures are located across the border in Chelmsford. ∆
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