Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

July 18, 2013

Town Notebook: Busy agenda for selectmen

By Bill Kirk
Staff Writer

---- — Out with the old, in with the new

Police Chief Brian Pattullo’s retirement is effective Thursday, Aug. 1, and the new chief, Sgt. Patrick Keefe, will be sworn in that morning in a small ceremony. A public, ceremonial swearing-in will take place Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 5 p.m. in Old Town Hall on Main Street. It is open to the public.

Education aid discussion

Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli announced at Monday night’s meeting that he would be meeting with School Committee Chairman Dennis Forgue and Finance Committee Chairman Jon Stumpf this week to discuss the “mechanism” of how to spend an additional $500,000 in education money, known as Chapter 70.

The state budget included $8.5 million in Chapter 70 money for Andover, an increase over last year’s allotment of $8 million.

Last year when extra education funding came through after the budget had been set, town and school officials wrangled over what to do with the additional funds. In the end, the town took $600,000 from its free cash account and gave it to the schools instead of having to wait for a special Town Meeting to decide how to spend the state aid.

Vispoli said the three chairmen would be discussing whether to schedule a special Town Meeting to vote on the money or whether to take an approach similar to last year.

Appointments OK’d

Selectmen Monday night approved a number of appointments to town positions, including a junior custodian, a police dispatcher and a handful of lifeguards.

In addition, about 100 pollworkers, including clerks and wardens, were appointed or re-appointed.

“This is what it takes to run an election in town,” Vispoli said. Pollworkers are typically paid $8.25 an hour.

Land swap

Town officials and the Andover Village Improvement Society finalized an elaborate land swap Monday night. Under the agreement, which was approved at a 2010 Town Meeting and was authorized through recently enacted special legislation at the Statehouse, AVIS is conveying 21 acres of land to the town while the town is giving 11 acres to AVIS.

The land AVIS is giving to the town includes 16.21 acres known as the Pettengill Landfill off Pettingill Road and another 5.2 acres of land from the Rafton Reservation on the west side of Interstate 93, which is primarily wetlands. The land was contaminated with arsenic that leached from Ledge Road landfill.

Meanwhile, the town has transferred 11 acres of land to AVIS, including land off Monahan Lane and Heather Drive as well as land off Andover Street.

AVIS owns and manages numerous properties throughout town as open space.

Accounting position

Selectmen held a discussion Monday night about the town accountant’s position.

With the pending retirement of accountant Rodney Smith in November, selectmen, who under the town charter appoint the town accountant, are trying to come up with a new way to integrate the position into the town’s organizational structure.

Currently, the accountant reports directly to the Board of Selectmen. It is the only position, other than town manager, that reports directly to the board.

Donna Walsh, who was appointed as finance director last year, has control over the entire Finance Department, except for the town accountant.

A subcommittee of the selectmen, including Mary Lyman and Dan Kowalski, presented four different options for rearranging the organizational chart to reflect concerns of Town Hall staff.

Options range from doing nothing to making the town accountant the assistant finance director, reporting to both the board and Walsh. The discussion will continue.

Other business

Selectmen also discussed the town manager’s goals for last year and the coming year.

Columbia Gas and National Grid will be digging up streets around town in coming weeks as part of utility replacement and upgrades.

Selectmen approved continuing the downtown parking program for one year at a rate of $50 per month. The program is for employees of downtown businesses.