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$11.2 million road repair, Groton City charter revisions pass

By Greg Smith

Publication: theday.com

Published November 06. 2012 11:00PM   Updated November 07. 2012 1:37AM

Groton - Voters on Tuesday approved a $11.2 million townwide road maintenance bonding question.

City residents also overwhelmingly approved city charter revisions.

Unofficial results from the referendum questions show the charter revisions passed by a 1,833 to 614 vote count and the road repair referendum question at 6,043 in favor and 5,550 against. Voting for charter revisions was limited to the two city voting districts.

Opposition to the road maintenance funding question was evident Tuesday by the "Vote No" signs posted at each of the town's polling places. The five-year program was proposed as a way to supplant what town officials say is years of inadequate funding to the yearly capital improvement project budget.

Mary Lou Peck of Groton said she voted against the measure and said the town was better off budgeting money each year and not borrowing funds, which added more than $2 million in interest costs.

"The daily and ongoing maintenance of the roads has been ignored," Peck said. "Now they want to push through a bulk sum. I don't think we need to be borrowing any more money."

Paul Duarte said he voted in favor of the bonding.

"What people don't understand is the speed at which these roads deteriorate," Duarte said. "When you let it go, it costs a fortune. They have been neglected for the sake of the budget for way too long."

There was less controversy on the charter revision referendum question.

Charter Revision Commission Chairwoman Shirley Dunbar-Rose said the changes, a needed update, are the first in 25 years.

"A lot of effort went into this. It's a good move for the city," Dunbar-Rose said.

One of the more significant changes to the charter is the increase in power of the City Council over the budget. Under the revised charter, the City Council would have the authority to either approve or reject the mayor's budget before sending it to voters.

"It's just good to know we're going to move ahead, modernizing and bringing things up to date," City Mayor Marian Galbraith said.

The revisions also establish a code of ethics with a five-member board of ethics and increases the term of the city clerk from two to four years.

g.smith@theday.com

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