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Fin Com Wants Haddad to Identify $500K In Cuts From Town Budget [with video]

On Monday Town Manager Haddad called an emergency meeting of all Town Department heads to identify items in the municipal budget for cuts of as much as a half million dollars, these savings possibly needed to alleviate the budget shortfall at the Groton Dunstable Schools.

The emergency meeting, prompted by a request from the Finance Committee could be would be "game changer", said town Manger Haddad. The potential cuts and data showing the impact that such cuts would have on town services will be available for the Tuesday Feb. 11 meeting with the Finance Committee.

At the meeting, Manager Haddad stressed to the department heads that this is not a "town versus the schools" issue. "We are going to work with the Finance Committee when making any cuts", adding that people move to Groton not only for the schools, but they also come here for safety provided by the police and fire departments, the open spaces, and all the other amenities offered by the town.

Haddad laid out an assessment of appropriations for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District for each fiscal year starting in 2009 up to and including the anticipated need for 2015. He stressed that each year, in the budget; he had always set aside a 2.5 percent increase for the district, but that there were several years in which the School Committee declined to take the full appropriation.

Because the School Committee did not ask for the funds that were earmarked for them, the amount they did not want went into the Unexpended Tax Capacity and was never raised through taxes.

He stressed that this was important to understand because none of these monies were used to fund the new Center Fire Station. It had no impact on the budgets on the municipal side, he said.

Haddad said that there were a couple of possibilities for consideration by the Selectmen. One was the town meeting vote of $76K for the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project, and suggested that the Board may want to rescind that vote for budget savings. "It may be a luxury we can't afford," he said. The second area he raised was to look at the $103K that was approved for the study for the $1.5M Lost Lake Fire Protection plan, fifty percent of which was already spent. He added that he needed input from the Board for other areas to look at.

Fin Com member Bud Robertson stressed that this is a 'total town issue' and suggested putting together a list of potential reductions and prioritizing them. "It's going to be a hard time," he said.

Robertson noted that the school department didn't have the right people looking at the budget, adding that if they had taken the money the shortfall would have been a lot less. "Mark explained it well," and that the money was there for the municipal side and the school, and the "school came back and said they didn't need it." He pointed out that school got incorrect data.

Haddad again stressed that it was not a town versus school issue and that all parties would work together to get it resolved.

Town Manager Mark Haddad advised the Selectmen, that after a lengthy Saturday review of budgets with the Finance Committee that included the Police Department, the Fire Department, Library, DPW, Park Dept., Pool and Golf Club and his own budget, the Fin Com felt that all the budgets were well done.

Groton Herald

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P.O. Box 610, Groton, Massachusetts 01450

145 Main Street, Groton, Massachusetts 014510
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