Contact Brooks Lyman

Groton Needs New Thinking!

24 year resident of Groton.

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.

We 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

There are, 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 expenditures.

Groton-Dunstable 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.

Self Reliance....

Ralph 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 hiring more 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 to attract volunteers to fill regular Town committees and special ad hoc committees formed to address specific issues, such as the Town's Master Plan.

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.

Please Vote Brooks Lyman for Selectman!  Thanks!