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Near $1 Million Capital Budget Draws Notice

Selectmen have reviewed the 2012 Spring Town Meeting Warrant with few of the total 26 articles generating significant debate or many questions. Town Meeting will be held Monday, April 30 starting at 7 p.m. in Groton-Dunstable Middle School South Auditorium.

One major issue is Capital Budget Requests from the Groton Pool and Gold Center (aka Groton Country Club) for a number of items totaling $130,200. Most important of these requests is replacement of an aging pool filtration system at a cost of $50K. This purchase is important as a portion of revenues that sustain the Center comes from pool memberships. Other requests include a rough mower for $20,200, fleet lease cost for golf carts at $20K, repair of golf cart paths and refurbishing tee boxes for $25K, and drainage improvements for $25K.

These warrant articles follow Article 4 - Wage and Classification - that includes a line item funding salaries and wages of Groton Pool & Golf Center employees. Selectman Josh Degen asked, what happens if the capital expenses are not approved. "How can the club function?" he asked. Selectman Stuart Schulman said that he saw it as no different from the way the Dept. of Public Works or the IT Dept. would continue to work. Selectman Fran Dillon stressed that the club has operated like this for years. "At some point we have to have a discussion on what we want to do here," he said.

Town Manager Mark Haddad said Degen has a point and suggested that Club Manager put together an assessment of revenue projections and potential impact if there is not a filter system replacement. Dillon suggested that the manager look at the budget and the impact on revenue for each of the club's other capital requests.

Other capital requests in the FY2013 budget include purchase of a Bobcat for the Transfer Station for $25K, pickup truck for the Highway Dept. at $30K, dump truck for the Highway Dept. for $135K, IT infrastructure including 14 new computers for $40K, police locker room upgrade for $85K, two new police cruisers for$72K, and fire engine replacement for $450K.

In a notable departure from past years, the Community Preservation Committee received only one request for funds, $150K, for the Conservation Fund used by the ConCom to purchase Conservation Restrictions, Agricultural Preservation Restrictions, and land outright for conservation. There is also a debt service for the Surrenden Farms land acquisition of $487,888K that comes from the Community Preservation Fund. Haddad advised the town should anticipate a 30 percent reimbursement from the state for the Community Preservation Act account. At its peak the state reimbursed towns that adopted the Community Preservation Act at 100 percent.

Voters will be asked to 'endorse' the updated Master Plan prepared by Community Opportunities Group, Dodson Associates, Ltd, and Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, Inc, dated Sept. 2011. This action is not considered a binding vote as the Planning Board will have formally adopted it at an earlier meeting.

There are two articles that will address siting new Center Fire Station. Currently, town officials are looking at three sites: Prescott School, Station Ave. and two-acres adjacent to the Public Safety Building on Pleasant St. One article seeks an amount to purchase the two-acre site from the Lawrence Homestead Trust. Selectmen hired an architect and engineer to conduct a full review of this site to determine its viability and a full report will be presented to Town Meeting. The second article will seek design funding for a new Center Fire Station regardless of which of the three potential locations is ultimately chosen, and to advertise for the project.

Voters will also be asked to accept Ayer into Nashoba Valley Technical High School district. In order to become a member, Ayer needs to receive approval from two-thirds of current member towns in the district, Littleton, Westford, Chelmsford, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend in addition to Groton.

Although there are 26 articles, Haddad summed up the Spring Town Meeting requests as "very quiet for articles to be included in this town meeting."

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