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Haddad: This year’s good fortune not likely to extend into FY2013


GROTON — Although Groton is one of the few area communities where the tax rate will actually decrease in fiscal 2012, officials Tuesday night learned their good fortune likely would not last into 2013.

That news was delivered to the Finance Committee by Town Manager Mark Haddad in a preview of the fiscal 2013 budget.

“I’m well under way,” said Haddad, who is required under the town’s charter to submit a proposed municipal budget by Dec. 31.

“The departments have really come to the table,” Haddad continued. “In response to my request, they have come forward with the kind of budgets needed to move on next year and into the 21st century.”

Referencing the town’s good fortunes for 2012, Haddad said a recent restructuring of the debt incurred by the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District for purchase of the land upon which its new high school was built helped in keeping the tax rate down in the coming year, but that would not hold true for subsequent years.

That was because the way the debt was restructured, in accordance with state rules, lower payments would be made in the early years of the loan repayment schedule before rising steeply in following years.

“That certainly represents a bump in the road,” admitted Town Accountant Valerie Jenkins,

“But there’s nothing we can do about that,” said Haddad, adding that efforts will be made to hold down spending in the future in an attempt to soften the blow.

Adding to the uncertainty with school spending, were upcoming union negotiations whose financial impact on the district’s budget is still uncertain.

“However, the schools are very well run right now,” assured Haddad, citing efforts by Superintendent Joseph Mastrocola and Business Manager Gerry Martin, in particular.

The bottom line was that Haddad predicted the fiscal ’13 budget would end up with a $400,000 shortfall at current spending rates, a number that could be reduced with the aid of a new state law allowing town governments more freedom to set insurance coverage for its employees.

However, Haddad warned FinCom members that some of the tricks that were used to hold down the tax rate in 2012 might not be available again for 2013.

“There are issues we’re grappling with right now but we’re still in great shape,” said Haddad of how the budget picture has been coming together.

With the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, Haddad informed Finance Committee members that he had scheduled a joint meeting on Jan. 9 between themselves and the Board of Selectmen to formally present his proposed budget for fiscal 2013.

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