To the editor:
During this time residents are naturally concerned with the health of their families, their children’s remote learning and dealing with current life, economic and work changes.
Meanwhile the business of your town government continues.
At a Select Board meeting on Saturday, March 14, the board was asked to recommend approval of the town manger’s fiscal year 2021 proposed budget. This is the budget that will be submitted to you at this year’s annual Town Meeting (tentatively scheduled for June 22).
To address the growing concern of recent tax increases, last June the board voted to instruct the town manager to construct the FY 2021 budget so that the property tax bill will not increase by more than 3.6%. This represented the 10-year average property tax increase. This was an attempt to protect the taxpayer from skyrocketing increases, and provide fiscal guardrails for the town manager.
The 3.6% maximum cap was approved by the Select Board last June, 4-1.
Unfortunately, the budget that was presented in March reflects a property tax increase of 4.6%. If the budget passes at Town Meeting, this tax hike would take effect on July 1, 2020.
The board voted in favor of the 4.6% tax increase, 4-1. I voted against the higher increase and strongly recommended that we respect our prior commitment at a maximum increase of 3.6%.
The additional tax revenue is earmarked towards pension obligations by $1.7 million. There is no reform being contemplated, such as pension eligibility, which is where real impacts can be made.
The larger tax hike will also increase the cost to our businesses, this at a time when small businesses are getting impacted the hardest.
The tax-setting authority in Andover is the Select Board. Again, I appeal to the town manger and the other four members (who voted in favor of the larger tax increase) to honor the board’s vote last summer to protect the taxpayer with the lower property tax increase.
Especially in this time of financial and employment uncertainty, residents and businesses should have confidence that their elected officials will keep their promises.
Member, Andover Select Board