EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 10, 2014

Chairman happy with town'sfiscal situation

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Finance Committee Chairman Alan LeBovidge says he is optimistic about the town’s financial condition.

The committee Wednesday night discussed the five-year capital improvement plan from Town Manager Andrew Maylor. LeBovidge, a certified public accountant who has headed the state Department of Revenue and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, said he likes Maylor’s “balanced approach” to spending as well as the “financial restraint” the manager has exercised.

“I am encouraged,” he said. LeBovidge and other Finance Committee members were pleased that Maylor repeated his oft-stated pledge that he will not ask the town to back an override of Proposition 2 1/2.

Finance Committee member Donald Elliott made it clear that he does not want to ask voters to approve a tax increase override.

Speaking of taxes, Maylor pointed out the town’s levy – the total amount collected in real estate taxes – will rise by 1.75 percent during the next fiscal year.

One item in the capital improvement plan concerns the committee: A request to spend $150,000 for an addition to the North Andover Thrift Shop at the historic Scholfield Mill at Sutton and Main streets.

LeBovidge said he recently asked Maylor, “Why are we spending money on the thrift shop?”

Maylor noted that the town made a commitment to maintain the property when it acquired the mill a dozen years ago. Subsequently, the thrift shop, which used to be where the Joseph N. Hermann Youth Center is now, needed a new location, he explained.

Maylor said the thrift shop keeps the building occupied and thereby staves off deterioration. The addition will measure about 350 square feet, he said.

The five-year capital improvement plan calls for borrowing and spending about $40 million. The money cannot be borrowed or spent without the approval of the annual Town Meeting.

Besides the thrift shop addition, this year’s Town Meeting in May will act on a request to appropriate $5,940,000 to build a new Central Fire Station at Chickering Road (Route 125) and Prescott Street. The current station, at 124 Main St., was “designed for the horse and buggy days,” Maylor said.

“Did we absolutely decide on that?” Finance Committee member Susan Almono inquired about that location. Maylor said the decision has been made to use the site, which is owned by the town and has a seldom-if-ever-used softball field.

Maylor said he and other officials also considered putting the station on land now owned by Lawrence Municipal Airport, but decided it would be better to use a site that already belongs to the town.

Almono also asked if the town has studied the impact noise from the fire station would have on North Andover High School or its track, which is close to the location.

School Business Administrator James Mealey said the site is far enough removed from the high school so that the noise won’t pose a problem. High school Principal Carla Scuzzarella has said she does not object to having the station there, Maylor said.