Dunkin’ donates $35K to COA, drug abuse coalition

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Canton-based Dunkin’ Brands, parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins, has made good on its commitment to aid the town in return for a reworked tax agreement.

Earlier this week, the company presented a $25,000 check to selectmen for the new Council on Aging building on Pleasant Street. Renovations to the former Knights of Columbus hall are set to begin in March with the COA planning to move into the building in September or October.

In addition, Dunkin’ Brands presented a $10,000 check to the new substance abuse coalition led by Fire Chief Charlie Doody, Police Chief Ken Berkowitz, and School Superintendent Jeff Granatino. All three officials have pledged to work together to find ways to curb youth drug abuse in the town.

Jason Maceda of Dunkin’ Brands said the $10,000 was originally set aside as a reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the string of armed robberies at Dunkin’ Donuts locations throughout greater Boston. Canton Police detectives, specifically Jim Quigley and John Ruane Jr., were part of a task force who have arrested two suspects in the case. Maceda said Dunkin’ Brands felt that the reward money would be best suited for the new coalition, which formed in the fall.

Gene Manning, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said the new tax increment financing (TIF) extension, already approved by selectmen, will be put before voters at the May town meeting. He also singled out the work of John Ferrari of One Beacon Insurance, who helped seal the deal between the town and Dunkin’ Brands by offering an easement enabling Dunkin’ to install high-visibility signage on land by Route 128.

In other news from Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting, the board began to review all of the municipal department’s operating budgets. Finance Director Jim Murgia told the Citizen that the town’s Revenue Advisory Committee met last week and tentatively agreed to an increase of $500,000 and $1 million over last year’s budgets for the municipal and school departments, respectively.

After reviewing all budget requests, Murgia said selectmen will have to cut $200,000 from the municipal department wish lists and the School Committee must reduce its own wish list of additional expenditures from $2 million to $1 million. The good news is that there will be no staff layoffs or program cuts for FY 2015, which begins July 1. Murgia said the budget figures are still “fluid” and the Revenue Committee will meet again prior to town meeting to revisit the numbers.

Among the requests discussed Tuesday night were proposals to add an assistant recreation director, a human resource specialist ($50,000 each), and a town planner to aid the Planning Board ($68,000). Also, the new senior center is expected to add $22,000 in utilities and $5,000 in building maintenance costs.

In other budget news, Town Administrator Bill Friel formally announced a $1 million state grant for dam repairs to Shepard’s Pond. The funds include more than $660,000 in direct state aid and over $300,000 in a short-term loan. Friel said the balance of the cost of the dam repairs, another $1 million, would be a debt capital loan (pending town meeting approval), which could curtail debt capital spending over the next five years.

See this week’s Citizen for more highlights from Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting.

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