By Anne O’Connor
GROTON — Groton is looking at a budget that will retain the present level of services without requiring an override for fiscal year 2018.
The preliminary operating budget prepared by Town Manager Mark Haddad has a 2.29 percent increase, less than the 2.4 percent increase allowed by guidance from the selectmen and the Finance Committee.
The schools were given a placeholder in the budget since their assessment has not been set. He estimated a four percent increase for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District operating budget and seven percent for Nashoba Valley Technical High School.
If their assessments are higher than what was anticipated, the Finance Committee will have to figure it out, Haddad said the morning after he presented the budget to town and school officials.
“Everybody got the numbers last night,” Haddad said. The Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee and people from Groton-Dunstable attended a joint meeting on Jan. 3.
As requested, Haddad also prepared two other budgets, one that allows a 1.2 percent increase and another level funded. Both would entail cuts to services.
“I am adamantly opposed to budgets with cuts,” he said. “I think we can live within our means.”
“I’m very proud of the services that we provide our residents,” Haddad said. Taxpayers get a good bang for their buck.
A report by the Sustainable Budget Study Committee found the town’s ability to pay for the services it desires is elusive. The report is dated Dec. 15, 2016.
Revenues grow, but not enough to cover increasing costs without overrides, it found.
Last year, two override attempts were defeated. The town cut one informational technology employee, lifeguards at the beach and made cuts to the employee benefits line. The schools were not able to grow, Haddad said.
The Finance Committee will meet Saturday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. They will go through the budget with a fine-tooth comb, Haddad said.
The proposed budgets are on the town website, www.townofgroton.org.
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