“I tried really hard on the senior center,” she said. “That was a huge loss. The effort went on for years. We researched and did all these things. But the neighbors were brutal — they wanted tissue paper wrapped around the roots of the trees. We took care of every single concern.”
Among her accomplishments, Lyman pointed to a successful initiative to reduce the number of take-home vehicles used by town officials, a perk that had received considerable criticism. She worked with selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli on a study identifying employees who had a town vehicle and then developed a plan to eliminate the perk for the next hires. Now, vehicles are provided to only a handful of town employees, such as the police and fire chiefs who are required by law to have them.
She’s also proud of former Finance Director Anthony Torrisi’s achievement securing a AAA bond rating for Andover 15 or so years ago. “Every time we go out to bond, we get very good rates,” she said. “He worked hard to get us that status.”
Right up until her last meeting Monday night, Lyman continued pushing for responsible town government. During recent budget meetings, she has tried to drive home the point that hiring new employees makes it very hard on taxpayers, particularly in the face of cutbacks and economies occurring in the private sector.
That approach has surprised department heads when they have gone before the selectmen to present their budgets. Already, selectmen have lopped $600,00 from the budget, essentially eliminating the plan by the town and School Department to add a combined 14 full-time-equivalent employees next fiscal year.
In one case, selectmen rejected Police Chief Patrick Keefe’s proposal to expand a part-time clerk’s post to full time to process a recent influx in gun license requests, saying the departments combine existing positions to handle the workload.
“I don’t think they knew what we were coming up with,” Lyman said of the department heads. “The board has to take the official position that we are not going to authorize new positions. It’s hard, but they have got to figure out how to get it done within the existing budget.”