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ASHBY — Expected cuts in state aid to cities and towns have Ashby officials looking at possible layoffs, according to Selectman Geoff Woollacott.

Ashby department heads are meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the ramifications of a 10 percent, across-the-board cut to all departmental budgets, town administrator Linda Sanders said. Sanders got a look at initial budgets this week, and said “many” employees will be laid off if all of the proposed cuts are approved. Town officials would not say Wednesday how many positions could be lost.

Ashby is trying to reduce the proposals for the 2010 fiscal year budgets in light of state budget cuts that may see a reduction in local aid by as much as 10 percent. Woollacott said selectmen and other officials need to work more on the numbers. The current proposals would leave the town in a bad position, he said.

“Some of the department cuts are unsustainable,” he said. Some of the proposals would greatly reduce key services in town, Woollacott said, including police, highway and the dispatching department. Ashby cannot let those departments be reduced to the point they are unable to function, he said.

“You can’t just have two employees working at the highway yard,” Woollacott said.

Sanders said it is too early to tell how deep the cuts will be, and what services they will impact. Woollacott said officials will look at any alternatives to making cuts to employees.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” Woollacott said.

Damien Fisher may be reached at dfisher@sentinelandenterprise.com.

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