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Money making plans proposed


Charlton explores alternatives to budget cuts, tax hikes


December 01, 2010
CHARLTON — While the national obsession now seems to be budget cutting, Charlton is looking at ways to make money that don't involve tax hikes.

In response to two months of Financial Planning Subcommittee discussions on how to avoid needing to use a huge chunk of the town's Stabilization fund next year, town department heads proposed seeking advertising, partnering with companies and nonprofits to fund public services, leasing land, reviewing various town fees, collecting on abandoned driveway and similar bonds, using "capital exclusions" more often, getting interns to do some things, and seeking bids for sole providers of towing, trash and similar services.

In all, they offered 27 ideas Treasurer Keith Arsenault said "might enhance and improve [local receipts] and have a little bit of creativity." None had specific dollar values attached to them, unlike the subcommittee's proposed cuts unveiled informally a few weeks ago.

"It's not the goal to just say, 'Let's go increase taxes," said Selectman Scott Brown, the subcommittee's chairman. He compared the ideas to the recently approved meals tax, noting the idea is to find ideas that will have "minimal" effect on most Charlton residents.

Subcommittee member Robert Hartwig (also a Finance Committee member) agreed, noting, "It was always our goal to overshoot the mark [with the list of proposed cuts] a little bit to give us some options."

Some of the new ideas involved land use. One of them is already in process — leasing town land to certain kinds of businesses, such as cell towers and solar firms, and maybe erecting "discreet signs that wouldn't be offensive" near town entrances, Arsenault said. There are several cell towers in town, and a few companies are seeking acreage for solar farms, but he noted it may still be possible to use the road frontage for residential uses.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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