Graduate of The Newman School and Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Small Business owner: Brookline Controls Corp; Concord Cartridge Company.
Elected member (currently Chairman) of Groton Housing Authority since 1994.
Groton Building Committee (currently Chairman).
Was one of the Founders of The Waldorf School in Lexington.
Former Trustee of The Christian Community in Brookline.
Chaplain and Treasurer of the Groton Republican Town Committee.
Massachusetts State Police-Certified Firearms Safety Instructor.
When Money Is Tight, People Have To Cut Their Spending. When Money Is Tight, Groton Must Cut Its Spending.
Politicians and Bureaucrats at the State and National
level are promoting hope and change. Whether these various programs and
laws are good or bad, efficient or inefficient, practical or
impractical should be important to all of us. But there is one thing
that we ought never to forget:
Ultimately, these changes directly
or indirectly impact all of us individually, as citizens and as
taxpayers. As law abiding citizens, we must obey the laws; as taxpayers,
we must pay for the laws and their effects. For example, broader health
care mandates will mean more expense and higher taxes.
TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!)
We do not have direct control over the implementation
of these changes. We do have indirect control, through our elected
representatives in Boston and in Washington and at the Ballot Box.
should urge our State and Federal Representatives and Senators to vote
for those laws we feel to be beneficial and against those that seem to
be harmful; we should replace those politicians who do not vote in a
manner supportive of our lives, liberty and property
of course, many differing and valid opinions on these matters. Some may
value the security of government programs and regulation over individual
liberty. For myself, I prefer the greatest liberty consonant with
public order and safety.
We Can't Run Away From Our Obligations.
These changes in laws and government programs have consequences
which affect us as individual citizens and as a Town. These laws and programs often mandate various expenditures.
Health Care and Retirement benefits for Town
employees are two of the most obvious of these. While we can juggle these costs around between the Town and its Employees or
shop around for the best deal on insurance, we cannot avoid these
Regional School District budgets are expenses which we have no power
to change other than by moral suasion or, if GDRSD forces an override
vote at Town Meeting, by defeating it.
The ongoing operation of the town - Road Maintenance, Public Safety, other necessary Town Services - has to be funded.
What Can We Do? What Should We Do?
Since "Proposition 2 1/2" (which I wholeheartedly support) limits the Town's ability to simply raise
taxes to fund these various new and ongoing (and seemingly metastasizing) expenses,
it behooves Groton to give hard-nosed attention to its budget. I do not believe this is being done as thoroughly as it should be, given
the current economic climate. It is very easy for Selectmen to
sit in Town Hall and lose sight of reality.
The Town has very real needs, problems and desiderata. Unfortunately, most of these seem to involve money, and money
is in particularly short supply....
We need a new way of
thinking about how the town goes about its business. I am not suggesting
that we should change the way the Town's government is organized; we
did that a few years ago and we need to give the new Town Charter and
the Town Manager system a chance to either succeed or fail.
But within these boundaries, we can certainly cut unnecessary expenses. We need to ask whether we really need this Town employee or that Town program. We need to realize that these hard times are not going to be permanent, and that we can almost always go back and reinstate positions and programs when we can afford them, but that right now, there isn't that much blood left to be squeezed out of the turnip, so we need to do things differently.
Waldo Emerson wrote of Self Reliance. This a broad subject and I think
it applies to the Town as well as to individuals.
We should make more use of volunteers instead of
staff or contracting with expensive consultants. As a Town, we are
hardly lacking for Intelligent and Talented People....
We need to
take advantage of this resource. We need to make a really serious effort
attract volunteers to fill regular Town committees and special ad hoc
committees formed to address specific issues, such as the Town's Master
We also need to be hard-headed about some of the
desiderata. Do we really have to do something right now? Can we put it off
for a year or three? Do we really need to do it at all, or could it be
done by Private Enterprise or a Non-Profit Organization or as a Citizen's Initiative Group under Town sponsorship?
More Self Reliance....
With the State becoming ever more involved in the life of Towns (and individuals), we need to take a hard look at the "aid" that we get from Boston - State Aid to the Cities and Towns, the "Cherry Sheet." This money come in two flavors: Restricted and Unrestricted. The Restricted Aid must be spent on specific things - for example, education for police officers. while the Unrestricted funds can go into the General Fund of the Town to be used for any purpose the Town Meeting approves.
The Unrestricted State Aid is currently less than $700K, which is less than 5% of Groton's Town operating budget. GDRSD gets additional State Aid which goes directly to their budget.
The problem with State Aid is that it is politically allocated and dependent on the state of the economy. Thus, when the economy is bad, there's less state aid, and if the Legislative powers-that-be in Boston decide that a "rich" town like Groton should get less than some other towns, we get cut. State aid is a slender reed upon which to balance the Town's budget.
Given that the Unrestricted State is such a small portion of our budget, relying on it seems to be counterproductive. I suggest that this Unrestricted State Aid should not be used as part of the Towns operating budget, but should instead be placed in an account reserved for special projects. This could be Affordable h\Housing; new Playing Fields; new Town Infrastructure or various necessary but otherwise unfeasible Capital Expenses.
The actual operating budget of the Town should be funded strictly from the tax receipts of the Town, which is a more stable and predictable source of funding.