Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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March 13, 2014

Making their case

(Continued)

The selectman’s candidates, however, created the most interesting exchanges in what was an otherwise fairly sedate event.

While the debate over tax breaks for senior citizens offered the sharpest point of disagreement, the two candidates also took opposing stances on several other matters.

They disagreed — for different reasons — with Selectman Dan Kowalski’s idea to use $1 million in free cash to reduce the tax burden on residents.

Oberto said the tax break should be bigger, adding that the elderly couple she spoke with over the weekend needed more relief than just $70.

“We can do something better,” she said, adding that some people are calling Kowalski a “saint” for his proposal.

O’Donoghue, meanwhile, said Kowalski’s proposal “raises an important point,” except that his solution would be a one-time fix when a long-term one is needed.

“The problem is next year when the money is no longer there,” she said. “Then you’ve got a problem. These ideas need to be carefully thought out. I don’t think this is the best proposal.”

The candidates agreed that rezoning of the Town Yard is unnecessary, but they disagreed on what the next step should be.

O’Donoghue said the town manager was working on a study that will be presented in June on how to proceed.

Oberto countered that the time for studies is over.

“If we stopped studying it and spent that money to fix it, it would be done by now,” she said. “We don’t have to go through all the extra work. We can make the space work.”

O’Donoghue countered: “We need a plan on the table.”

They both seemed to agree that the cost of personnel — in salaries and benefits for town employees — is what’s causing the biggest problem in the town budget.

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