Andover voters to be asked to OK $500,000 loan for road projects; save town school from closing

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ANDOVER — Residents attending this Saturday’s annual town meeting face a 75-article warrant. It has requests ranging from approving a loan of up to $500,000 to fix a list of potential road projects to raising a designated fund amount to keep Andover Elementary School open if SAD 44’s School Board votes to close it.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. March 20 in the town hall.

Rather than tabulate what the proposed municipal budget is based on recommendations by selectmen and the Budget Committee, selectmen leave the decision up to town meeting voters, Selectman Keith Farrington said on Wednesday evening.

“I’ve never added it all up,” he said. “But my guess — minus that loan item — is that it will be real similar to last year’s.”

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“A lot depends on what the voters approve or don’t approve, but most department budgets were flat or lower than last year.”

“It’s not really up to us, it’s up to (voters) to set the budget,” he said. “We just come up with the warrant line items, but (on Saturday), I’ll be adding it up as we go.”

Farrington said last year’s approved budget was $573,000.

Town meeting budgets do not include county or SAD 44 assessments, which are done later in the year.

Funds in the warrant to be raised or appropriated based on the selectmen’s recommendation, and excluding the loan, come to $555,198.

Farrington said selectmen added the school item in Article 75 to generate discussion.

“On Monday, March 22, SAD 44’s School Board is meeting and we’re afraid they will be dropping (Andover’s school), because there is a proposal before them to potentially close both the Andover and Woodstock schools,” Farrington said.

“But if they vote to do that, as part of the state’s school closure process, they can’t close it if the town votes to fund the school.”

Of the many new items, Articles 5 and 6, respectively, ask residents to vote annually to take any money over $100,000 from surplus for tax reduction, and to also use up to $95,000 from collected excise taxes to offset taxation.

Voters are also being asked to:

• Reduce the regular transfer station hours from the current 17 to 15 hours per week.

• Authorize moving the town office into the town hall.

• Take money from the Revaluation Account to cover expenses of moving the town office, and vote to sell the 219 Stillman Road property to offset the moving expense and return the property back into taxation.

• Raise and/or appropriate $35,000 to buy and install a new roof on the town hall.

• Authorize transferring nearly $6,000 from surplus to town hall improvement. This was insurance money that was errantly placed in surplus.

There are also three citizen-initiated petitions asking if the town will vote to:

• Change the clerk/tax collector/registrar of voters position from an elected position to a position hired by selectmen. However, a “yes” vote wouldn’t apply until the next election cycle or if the position becomes vacant 90 days after the vote.

• Have a policy to ban any town employee from being appointed as deputy clerk or deputy treasurer.

• Limit hours of the deputy treasurer or deputy clerk to 100 hours annually for each position.

Municipal elections by secret ballot will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23, at the town hall. There are no contested races for a selectman seat and two SAD 44 School Board terms.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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