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Town Prepares For Coronavirus Threat

What If Virus Forces Postponement of Town Meeting? How Will Budget Be Approved To Keep The Town Operating?
[Note: In addition to this article, there are several others in this week's Groton Herald on preparations for and advice about the Coronavirus in town. Here's a list:
• Under SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS see: "Groton Board of Health Tips On Coronavirus Protection;"  "Senior Center Procedures To Reduce Spread of Coronavirus;"  and  "Gov Baker Declares State Of Emergency Due To Coronavirus." 
• In the SCHOOLS section, see "District Purchases Clorox Total 360 Machine to Combat Coronavirus;" and "Superintendent Shoots Down Rumor of Coronavirus Infection."]
 
by Connie Sartini
 
The Coronavirus and protection from it were addressed at the Select Board meeting on Monday night. Town Manager Mark Haddad advised the Select Board that he has been working with the Human Resource Team, Town Counsel and the Board of Health to address the coronavirus and appropriate measures for employees that plan to travel outside the country. “We will need to talk with the unions regarding this.”
     He stressed that the custodial staff has been disinfecting the Town Hall and the Center in West Groton. “We are taking this seriously and it is a concern. We know that three employees have plans for trips out of the country.”
     Select Board member John Giger said it was important to give “serious thought to the workplace. Something like this could affect the town causing a reduction in available employees. Also, people who need to stay in for 14 days need to be prepared.”
     Haddad added that there is a concern for large assemblies, noting, “Town Meeting usually has close to 300 attendees. The question is should we plan for any change for the April 27 Town Meeting?” He added, “The budget is the most important item on the warrant as it needs to be approved so the town can continue to operate.”
     Town Moderator Jason Kauppi advised that once the Town Meeting warrant is posted, and because the Town passed the section of the Mass. General Laws that gives the Town Moderator the ability to postpone a Town Meeting for public safety or serious weather conditions, he could postpone spring town meeting.
     However, Kauppi advised, “You have to reset the meeting within 30 days.” He suggested that there could be a meeting where the only item was a vote on the budget, and then a postponement of the rest of the warrant.
     Selectman Josh Degen suggested, “(One) option would be to hold an outdoor meeting with bleachers.”
     Select Board Chairman Alison Manugian asked how late town could go without the budget and Haddad responded that it had to be done by June 1. She added that they could consider doing the meeting outdoors, or through
classrooms that are connected digitally.
     Colleague Giger noted, “No one knows if in 30 days we will be any better off.”
     Haddad told the Board that he would get information on changing the date of Town Meeting and solutions for where to hold it. He added that he would get answers on these questions from Town Counsel.
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