Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

April 17, 2014

Drug counselor is 'vital'

Finegold, others push for new hire

(Continued)

The Finance Committee has also recommended approval of the budget without the position.

Finance Committee member Peggy Kruse said during last week’s meeting that it was selectmen who had pushed for personnel cuts in the budget because the town can’t afford to hire new, full-time employees due to the cost of long-term benefits such as pensions and retiree health insurance.

“You were saying don’t hire anyone new, now you are saying to hire someone new,” Kruse said to Kowalski and others.

Selectman Brian Major said that Fahey’s Youth Services Department has become the place to go in town for families with an addict because they have nowhere else to turn.

“These families go to Bill,” he said. “When parents are flustered and their kids are taking drugs and they don’t know where to go, they go to Bill. That’s what Bill was saying (in previous hearings). He’s getting an increased number of requests put on his group. They see there’s a need.”

Fahey concurred.

“This was a proactive solution that would help the community,” he said. “I made a request, based on what we’ve been seeing all over the Merrimack Valley, not just in Andover.

“It was a support position — a youth services worker who would develop proactive programming for young people with a variety of problems. I thought I had support from selectmen and the Finance Committee.”

But despite that support, selectmen approved the budget without the position.

Stapczynski said Fahey had requested two positions in his budget — the program coordinator for $60,000, which he did not initial fund, and a clerk, or support person, for around $42,000. He said he initially recommended hiring the clerk so Fahey and others in his department could take on more active roles in counseling families with drug addiction issues.

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