EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 5, 2013

Sandown voters to decide on new police station

By Alex Lippa

---- — SANDOWN — Next month, voters will decide whether to build a new police station this year. Two warrant articles regarding a new station went to the March ballot without amendment at the deliberative session Saturday.

Residents can vote to spend $945,000 to build a new station this year. If they do, more than half would come from a capital reserve fund, with taxpayers raising the remaining $404,500. If voters approve, construction would start in mid-April.

An alternative option is to add $200,000 to a capital reserve fund for a station. The town has added $176,000 to the fund each of the last three years. It has a balance of $540,500 now. If voters opt to add more money to that fund, it would take another such deposit next year before construction could begin.

Police Chief Joseph Gordon said the longer the town waits to build a new station, the more expensive it will be.

“Building it now would save us about $100,000,” he said yesterday. “If we wait a few more years to build it, it could be over $1 million, due to inflation and the increase in the cost of wood products.”

Gordon said there was very little discussion among the 50 registered voters who attended the meeting. The town has 3,671 registered voters.

“The town has bought into it,” Gordon said. “They understand the need for a station and understand the problems here.”

In 2008, the town fell three votes short of building a new police station through a bond. While it needed two-thirds approval in 2008, this year’s article only needs a majority vote, due to the money coming from a capital reserve fund.

Selectman’s Chairman Stephen Brown said the four-hour meeting went smoothly and few changes were made to the warrant articles.

Residents voted to decrease a funding article for the Family Promise homeless shelter from $5,000 to $2,000.

“They had never come before us before,” Brown said. “They informed us that they were asking for $5,000 from some of the bigger towns in the area. We felt just because we were smaller, we wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Voters Saturday also amended an article which would have fined residents $25 for not having visible reflective address numbers on their homes for emergency personnel. It was amended to $0.

“We realized there were just too many discrepancies in the article,” Brown said. “Common sense should tell people whether they could see their house.”

The $3.4 million budget was moved to the ballot without any discussion. The default budget is $3.3 million.