EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 10, 2013

Letter: Town Meeting: 'Lone sheep against a pack of wolves'

To the editor:

On the evenings of May 6 to 8, I sat through Andover’s 2013 annual town meeting.

It was about as much fun as sitting through an armed robbery as the victim as our leaders essentially went on a vicious spending spree with our all of credit cards.

Of particular disappointment was the fact that out of the 22,000 registered voters in town, only a few hundred showed up to do their civic duty of voting on the approximately 60 articles, most of which greatly impact all of us financially. The majority of those who did show up are employed by the town, which explains things like continuing to give town employees benefits that are far greater than those of their public sector counterparts.

Some articles were very positive and worthwhile, such as the one on the long-awaited youth center. Others, such as the town land purchase article, reminded me of someone playing the board game Monopoly and wanting to buy half the board with no funds except those from mortgaging properties already held.

The town continues to borrow huge amounts of money, much as the federal government continues to borrow, resulting in the ever-rising national debt. Whether you are running a country, a state, a town or a household, the math is all the same: You simply cannot spend more than you earn or you will eventually go bankrupt.

When asked why we don’t just live within our means and use available funds for purchases, a member of the Finance Committee used the analogy of buying a home with a mortgage and spreading out the payments over time. She had the audacity to essentially say that future taxpayers can pay for it later — in other words, stick our kids with the bill.

Borrowing is good for buying a new town building or making other capital improvements, but the town is actually borrowing for small-ticket items like painting, paving and other routine maintenance that add up to a lot of money. This is a tactic used against us to get around the limits of Proposition 2 1/2, which is meant to protect citizens from overtaxation.

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