EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 14, 2014

Andover 4.5 percent budget hike proposed

Plan adds positions for town, schools

ANDOVER — Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski introduced a new theme along with his new budget proposal this week: “Using Andover’s strengths to ensure fiscal stability.”

That’s the philosophy behind his fiscal year 2015 budget plan, which will now undergo rigorous review.

The Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee were scheduled to begin their budget hearings tomorrow morning, but the session has been postponed to allow town officials to attend the funeral of former Finance Committee member and town fiscal watchdog Greg Rigby, who died this week. The meeting has been tentatively rescheduled for Saturday, March 8.

“It’s a rational budget with logic behind the numbers,” Stapczynski told The Eage-Tribune of his 24th straight budget submission since becoming town manager in 1991.

But his proposal was greeted with mixed reviews by officials, who were presented with it Monday night.

“There are some items in the budget I disagree with,” Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli said, pointing to Stapczynski’s proposal to add six new positions to town departments.

“It’s increased head count and increased cost. We had focused on the town side trying to keep that down. I don’t want to see that reversed. That’s what adds to the costs in the short term and more importantly the long term.”

Finance Committee member Jon Stumpf applauded Stapczynski for using a debt analysis tool to keep spending down on big projects.

“The department heads ask for more, but it’s (Stapczynski’s) responsibility to prioritize things,” he said. “It’s living within our means. He did a good job of that.”

For fiscal year 2015, which runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, the town manager is asking for a $164.6 million budget, which represents a $7 million — or 4.5 percent — increase over last year’s $157.6 million spending plan.

Among the highlights of the town manager’s proposal are:

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