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Budget woes could dissolve Eastern CT town

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SCOTLAND -- There is still no state budget in place and money is rapidly running out for a number of eastern Connecticut communities, including Scotland, which has talked about dissolving and merging with another town.

If there is no state budget in place by October 1, an executive order, issued by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, would reduce Scotland's Education Cost Sharing Grant by 70 percent.

Scotland, which is located several miles east of Willimantic, has been the lifelong home to the First Selectman, Daniel Syme (R-Scotland)

"It's quiet. It's pristine. It's people," he says, while sitting in his Town Hall office.

Without of state budget within a month, this community of some 1,700 would be forced to operate for the final three months of the year on a budget that would be just 25% of last year's budget.

"Some bills, some vendors aren't being paid," he said.

But, somehow, the town will remain open for business, for now.

"We are covering our education costs and keeping the schools open and the teachers employed," Syme said.

But for how long?

"The end of March, first part of April.," he said. "We are paying out over $400,000 a month just on education costs."

And, if there's no budget in place within a month, this town's Education Cost Sharing Grant dips from just over $1.4 million down to $427,000. That would increase the mil rate by 7 or 8 mils.

"A lot of people in Scotland are over 70 and they live on fixed incomes," said Grace Blodgett.

"We just bought our first house," said Jessica Calaci, who just moved to Scotland with her husband and children. "We were all excited."

They bought the home last November. Months later, the town's fiscal woes went public.

"We don't know what we're gonna do," Calaci says. "We just bought and we're already looking at just putting it back on the market. But, we can't because we've already lost so much money on the house."

While Syme hopes a state budget will be in place soon. But, if it is not, he said the town would have two options: file for bankruptcy or merge with a neighboring town.

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