Groton & Dunstable Summit Meeting 9/13/17

This blog post is my interpretation and summary of discussions from meetings that I attend and are not official minutes.

This evening was the first time that all peer boards came together to discuss the long term planning to fund both municipal and school needs.  In attendance were the Groton BoS, Groton Fin Com, Dunstable BoS, Dunstable Advisor, School Committee, Dunstable Town Administrator and Superintendent.

The SC Chair opened the meeting by presenting the evening’s goal which was to have collaborative, respectful and productive discussions that would move forward towards a planned, predictable, sustainable approach to budgeting.

The School Committee and Administration prepared a presentation to walk us through the agenda items and keep us on track.  Below are some of the highlights as well as a link to the full presentation.

  • Resources/Revenues Discussions – Groton and Dunstable are two unique towns with much in common.
    • Dunstable BoS Chair expressed concern that Dunstable does not have the same resources as Groton.  The SC Chair pointed out that, Dunstable does, in fact, have similar resources as Groton.  When reviewing the equitability in our town’s property value, tax base, median/mean income and the inequality of the tax rate the problem is not a resource problem it is a revenue problem.  A point of reference was made that if the inequality of the tax rate did not exist, Dunstable would have approximately $800,000 in additional revenues which would allow them to better prepare for both municipal and school expenses. 

 

  • Review Current Financial  Projections
    • Dunstable – Dunstable Advisory Chair shared with boards that they are working on a 3-5 year budget projections and is not prepared to share numbers at this time, however, is forecasting a deficit.
    • GDRSD – Operation Budget Growth

  • Groton – Groton Fincom Member shared with the boards that the TM provides a 5-year budget projection each year and the Sustainable Budget Study Committee shows a deficit if our town (municipal & schools combined) expenses grow beyond 4.8%.  I just don’t agree with this philosophy, how can we say that we have projected deficits year after year when we are certifying on average 1.2 million dollars religiously each year and this year we have 2.3 million dollars certified in Free Cash per the DLS website. I hoping that we can explore better forecasting procedures to allow more funding for operating expenses so we are not unnecessarily considering overrides while having millions of dollars being certified in Free Cash each year. 

Historic Certified Free Cash

    

Sustainability Budget Study Committee – Page 7 of Final Report with appendices