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GROTON — According to town officials, the budget formulation plan as outlined in the new charter, concerning the relationship between the town manager and the Finance Committee, is working as intended.

“It’s been great,” said town manager Mark Haddad, who is in the midst of his first budget formulation process for Groton. Haddad appeared before a meeting of the Finance Committee.

“All of the town’s departments have been very forthcoming in their meetings with me and have complied with all of my requests,” Haddad said.

“The role of the town manager versus the FinCom, as outlined in the charter, is in the best interests of the town because he can see on a daily basis what’s going on,” Finance Committee Chairman Jay Prager said. “So the whole budget formulation process can’t help but go more smoothly. It’s a more direct process now, where people report to one person (instead of to a whole committee).”

Haddad was hired as Groton’s first town manager earlier this fall, following passage and adoption of the new charter. Foremost among his many duties is the budget, which he is obligated to shape and present in draft form to the Finance Committee for approval.

In his appearance before the committee on Dec. 2, Haddad introduced himself and immediately briefed members on his activities regarding the budget for fiscal year 2010, which has included meetings with department heads as well as with Prager.

Haddad told the committee that the formulation process was “going well” and that, for the most part, departments have complied with his initial request to submit level-funded budgets that nevertheless maintained the same services to the public as in 2009.

“So far, departments have submitted really solid, level-funded budgets,” Haddad reported. He intends to continue to hold meetings with his fiscal team including town accountant Valerie Jenkins, assistant assessor Rena Swezey, and treasurer Christine Collins, to review each submitted budget.

When the reviews are finished, Haddad said, he will return to the FinCom to update members with an eye on having a final draft of the FY2010 budget ready for Dec. 31.

The “big question” will be how much aid the town can expect from the state in the coming year, Haddad said. Although not so acute a concern for the municipal side of government, the issue would be much more so for the schools.

The school budget has traditionally accounted for the lion’s share of public revenue. Haddad said he intends to work closely with Groton-Dunstable Regional School Superintendent Alan Genovese on the district’s budget. The school budget is not under the direct control of the town manager.

In conferring with Genovese, Haddad told the committee, he would show the superintendent his own recommended budget for the school district, knowing that the district need not follow it. With only a limited amount of local revenue available for public use, there is the possibility that the schools could seek an override on its own, to make up any shortfall.

For his part, Haddad vowed that he would not pursue that strategy for the town.

“I will not be seeking an override on the town side,” Haddad told the FinCom, in no uncertain terms.

Haddad told committee members that after presenting his recommended budget, he would be open to bringing in any department head to answer whatever questions the FinCom might have.

Prager wondered aloud whether it would be a good idea to have department heads present, as that might lead to a “free-for-all” over funding.