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February 25, 2014

Selectmen approve $86.5M budget

NORTH ANDOVER — The selectmen unanimously approved a budget of $86,504,915 last night.

The spending plan, recommended by Town Manager Andrew Maylor, will apply to the fiscal year that begins July 1. As Selectman Tracy Watson noted, “Town Meeting will have the final say.”

Maylor said the budget will increase services, provide some relief to taxpayers, reduce energy costs and lower debt service payments. The fiscal plan exceeds the amount appropriated last year by 4 percent.

The town could have increased its levy — the total amount that can be raised by real estate taxes – by 2.5 percent without obtaining an override. Maylor said his latest recommended budget will increase the levy by 1.75 percent, resulting in a $408,000 saving for taxpayers.

He estimated North Andover’s levy is about $60 million. While real estate taxes provide most of the town’s revenue, local receipts, such as fees for building permits and auto excise payments, as well as state aid also contribute.

One new service provided by the proposed budget is free all-day kindergarten. That’s expected to cost $680,000. The cost of health insurance, however, will drop by $1.2 million because of the town’s decision to join the Group Insurance Commission.

The amount budgeted for snow and ice removal in this year’s budget was $751,000. Thanks to a harsher than usual winter, that account is already about $250,000 in the red. The proposed budget increases the snow and ice account to $875,000 – and Maylor also called for a snow and ice reserve account of $165,000.

The selectmen did not ask for any reductions in the spending plan.

“Great job,” Selectman William Gordon said. The Finance Committee is expected to review the budget tonight, beginning at 6:45 p.m. in Town Hall.

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