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GROTON — Selectmen received an update on the state of the fiscal 2017 budget by Town Manager Mark Haddad Monday night when he said the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District’s draft budget includes an estimated $4 million increase over fiscal 16.

Groton’s share of the cost would come to $3 million.

However, Haddad told selectmen that in his own budget, he had planned to reserve $776,000 for the schools. That, plus another $75,000 freed up from the town’s levy limit due to more money than expected in state aid as well as other sources, would whittle the total being asked for by the district to an estimated $2,213,000.

But being only a preliminary district budget, Haddad called the numbers only a “worst-case scenario” with more compromising and adjusting to be made in the weeks to come.

As the school budget stands, said Haddad, it would increase his projected $18.78 per thousand assessed tax rate to $20.76.

To find the rest of the money that the town is unable to cover, the district would have to seek an override or more than one override as school officials have already hinted in past meetings with selectmen.

If passed, the money raised by such overrides would be permanently added to the district’s budget and would come in addition to a projected 3 percent increase in spending every year for at least the next five years.

Alarmed by such a prospect, selectmen have already moved to form a Sustainable Budget Study Committee to look into the question of unsustainable spending in the future.

Haddad said that so far, the town’s budget for fiscal 2016 was “on track” with his projections, even doing slightly better than expected.

“The town, financially, is in great shape,” Haddad said. “I’m very pleased with the way our budgets are going.”

And joining the town’s economic planning team will be newcomer to local politics, John Konetzny, a financial planner appointed by the board to fill a vacancy on the Economic Development Committee.

Also on Monday, Haddad briefed selectmen on progress being made on a number of goals set by the board for 2016 including the news that the Charter Review Committee would not be ready to submit its findings and recommendations this year. Instead, it will likely delay a report for another year.

In relation to a goal to improve the town’s relationship with local nonprofits, Haddad reported that Groton is “way ahead of the game” with a report to follow on a recent meeting he attended with the group.

Under the umbrella of improving communications with the public, the town manager said plans were afoot to begin adding videos to the town’s website.

The downtown parking and traffic situation was due to improve, as well, with the completion of one of two new parking lots behind a bank on Main Street and the second to follow in the spring.

One goal was to “develop a cohesive relationship” among members of the board for which a workshop has been scheduled for Feb. 17. The goal had been planned for some time, ever since tempers flared among selectmen earlier in the year creating an overheated working environment. The acrimony ended when Jack Petropoulos was chosen as the board’s chairman. An improvement Haddad acknowledged at the Feb. 8 meeting: “Over the last nine months, we’ve worked well together.” But even with conditions being much improved, the workshop remained on the schedule.

Finally, selectmen also voted to change the name of the Invasive Control Committee to the Invasive Species Committee at the request of members who felt that the old name was not inclusive enough of the work they do.

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