ANDOVER — Voters on Tuesday approved an ordinance to govern use of the COMSAT Trust Fund, allowing the town to borrow from it for infrastructure improvements. The tally was 280-240. 

The fund was established in 1984 with money from a tax settlement from the satellite Earth Station built by AT&T in 1961. As of June 2020, it had $760,171.

According to a policy governing its use, the interest could be used, but 25% of it had to be added to the principal and 75% to reduce the tax rate. Any change in the use of the funds must be brought to a town meeting referendum at which two-thirds of all registered voters must cast ballots. 

Under the Andover COMSAT Trust Fund Financial Ordinance passed this week, money can be used for infrastructure improvements if they are authorized at an annual town meeting or a special town meeting. The ordinance requires the town to repay the money from its General Fund within 10 years at a fixed interest rate no higher than 1% below the current market rate and no lower than 1%.

The town treasurer and Board of Selectmen are responsible to administer the use of the money withdrawn.

Twice in the past year, votes to approve changes to the fund policy failed because the two-thirds voting requirement was not met.

Town Clerk Melinda Averill said Wednesday 439 votes were needed for passage of the ordinance.
A letter from selectmen to residents Oct. 30 said, “We are looking to protect and utilize this fund for necessary road repairs. At the current rate of return we would save ourselves approximately $100,000 in interest over 10 years.” 

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