Q&A Interview With Josh Degen, Candidate For Select Board
Groton Herald: Why are you running for Select Board?
Josh Degen: I am running for re-election to continue to offer my services to the citizen’s of Groton. Serving our community as we navigate the challenges of growth is something that I both understand and enjoy.
Groton Herald: Starting next year Select Board, Fincom and Sustainability Commission have predicted the need for a series of rolling overrides to fund town government at current levels. What would you do, if anything, to respond the need for these projected overrides?
Josh Degen: We should continue to massage the numbers to yield any savings first. Then we should propose an override that will meet the needs for a five-year period. I feel that the likelihood of success at the ballot for five individual overrides in five successive years is a pipe dream. Even if only one override fails then we would need to cut jobs and related services. I will continue to advocate for one override that will fund the five-year need period as I have for the past year.
Groton Herald: Are there any cost saving areas that you see which could minimize the need for tax increases?
Josh Degen: No, not really.
Groton Herald: Would you support any proposal to reduce the three percent CPA surtax which has the potential to mitigate increases in individual tax bills?
Josh Degen: Yes if the State match does not increase. I would wait until the Surrenden Farm debt is extinguished first.
Groton Herald: Would you support any proposal to sell some land at the country club to bring in additional revenue?
Josh Degen: Sure if it did not adversely impact the golf course. Personally I would sell the whole thing if the price was right. I do not think that the Town should be in the business of running a golf course and a country club.
Groton Herald: Would you support any proposal to outsource some functions at the Country Club to create some savings in the town’s operating budget?
Josh Degen: Absolutely, if the terms and responsibilities were properly laid out in a RFP.
Groton Herald: There is a proposal before Spring Town Meeting proposing a local tax on the sale of tickets for entertainment performances in town. Do you support this initiative? Please explain why or why not.
Josh Degen: I absolutely support this. As a matter of fact it was I that introduced this idea to the SelectBoard. We then voted to add it to the warrant. The Commonwealth has no problem collecting and using our citizen’s tax dollars. Way more tax dollars leave Groton than are returned by the state. We are left holding the bag for the shortfalls in education funding, transportation needs and a whole bunch of municipal funding needs.
If this passes Town Meeting then the Massachusetts Legislative process will begin at the House Ways and Means Committee. The bottom line is that no Non Profit or educational institution will pay for this. It is only for events with ticket sales greater than 200. The tax will be paid by the purchaser of the ticket and not by the venue. Events such as student athletic events, student performance and events where the entertainment is unpaid will be fully exempt as currently proposed.
If enacted much needed tax dollars could help to augment Groton’s budget and that of other communities within our Commonwealth.
Groton Herald: What issues would you like to address in the next three years if elected?
Josh Degen: Sustainable budgets, public safety, citizen services, affordable housing, communication and transparency with the public and working to advance the enjoyment of all Citizens of Groton.