By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The Finance Committee voted unanimously Tuesday night to support the proposed town budget of $84,297,553 for the fiscal year that will begin July 1.
Voters at the May 21 annual Town Meeting will have the final say on the budget, which is expected to be listed under Article 17.
The proposed budget was prepared by Town Manager Andrew Maylor. Neither the selectmen nor the Finance Committee voted to make any reductions in the spending plan, which exceeds last year’s budget by 2.3 percent.
The Finance Committee also voted to support several other money-related articles at Town Meeting, including the water, sewer and Stevens Estate enterprise funds, as well as an extensive plan to improve energy efficiency in town-owned buildings.
The board spent considerable time going over the wording of its recommendation for Article 21, which calls for borrowing $4,049,027 to pay for better windows, heating systems and lighting in local public buildings. While the committee unanimously supported the plan, Maylor and members of the board took several minutes to edit the wording.
Essentially, the committee’s statement calls for energy savings “that will be reinvested in needed capital improvements.” The committee also urged Maylor and the selectmen to obtain the most favorable terms for the town in negotiating a contract with the firm that makes the energy-savings improvements.
“We’re saying we want them to get the best deal,” Finance Committee Chairman Alan LeBovidge said.
Selectmen Chairman William Gordon said his board reviews all contracts diligently.
“We do this with everything that comes down the pike,” Gordon said.
The Finance Committee also gave its approval to Article 22, the Capital Improvement Plan. Totaling $8,816.851 in money requests, this article includes $1,115,000 for roadway improvements, $3,895,500 for carrying out various aspects of the Facilities Master Plan, $300,000 for upgrading the Dale Street athletic fields, $260,000 for a new ambulance, $230,000 for a front end loader and $110,000 for better lights along High and Water streets.
Under the Facilities Master Plan, voters will be asked to approve construction of a new gymnasium at Kittredge School and a new School Department headquarters at the site of the former police station.
Maylor submitted two preliminary proposals for the property, at Main and Osgood streets. Rehabilitating the old station, which has been vacant since the police moved to their current quarters at 1475 Osgood St. in 2010, into a main office for the schools would cost $2,283,258, the manager said.
Tearing down the old station and building an entirely new structure would cost $2,302,853, Maylor said.
Finance Committee member Roberto Norbedo wondered why two proposals were offered. Maylor, who noted the town is not ready to seek bids for the project, said officials wanted estimates on the cost of constructing a new building as opposed to renovating the structure that’s already there.