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by Connie Sartini
Groton Select Board will not be proposing an override to taxpayers this year to address the projected deficit for FY2021 of $424,298.
     The Board reached this decision following a lengthy Saturday meeting with the Finance Committee, Town Manager Mark Haddad, his Finance Team where numerous options were put on the table, and they made their decision at their Monday night meeting (See Story on Page One).
     Based on the collective, detailed information presented on Saturday, Town Manager Mark Haddad advised the Board that the Town has a balanced budget for FY2021 along with a plan that presents several hypothetical options to address a five-year override. “If the Board wants to pursue an override, the Board needs to decide.”
     Haddad advised that the three biggest unknowns for the town right now are the cost of health care, the Groton Dunstable Regional School District final assessment to the town and lastly, the number of students that will be enrolled at the Nashoba Valley Technical High School next year.
     Select Board member john Giger pointed out that any potential State Aid is just an estimate for the GDRS district.
Select Board Chairman Alison Manugian stated, “I do not support an override at this point,” and expressed concern that “if we do this now, will we jeopardize the Florence Roche Elementary School project?” She added, “I will need to see dramatic cuts proposed before I’ll support it.”
     Colleague Becky Pine said she was “not in favor of an override,” indicating she may consider a three-year override but not a five- year override.
     Selectman Josh Degen commented, “We do not need an override this year. This has been proven to me.” He added, “Town Manager needs to be successful in opening contracts. There are only so many ways of getting new revenue.”
Haddad stressed that the town has maintained services for the last 11 years. “The state aid to the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District cannot maintain their budget. The municipal budget is not driving this as much as the state aid impact on the Groton-Dunstable schools.” He added,” The municipal budget stayed under three percent. I agree we don’t need an override; I am concerned about the SPED costs. I would ask the Board to think about balanced budgets, reductions and what is restored.”
     Following the meeting, Haddad stressed, “I am pleased that we are able to work cooperatively with the School District, Finance Committee and Select Board to balance the budget. It is always my goal each year to balance the budget within the confines of Proposition 21⁄2. We need to be sensitive to the taxpayers’ ability to pay their taxes, while balancing the municipal services we provide our residents. It is a team effort and I am proud to be part of the team.”
     This will be on the Select Board agenda for Monday, February 24 to continue the discussion.
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