Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

December 12, 2013

Residents, officials urge tax hike restraint

Finance Committee, public decry town's spending habits

The town manager’s Capital Improvement Program got a harsh reception Monday night from members of the Finance Committee and the public, who lashed out at Andover’s profligate spending habits and accompanying skyrocketing property taxes.

“I’m concerned about how we’re spending money,” Finance Committee member Gregory Serrao said during a meeting with members of the School Committee, Board of Selectmen and other town officials. “The debt model shows we are getting to unsustainable spending levels.”

He wasn’t the only one concerned about Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski’s plan for future projects, known as the Capital Improvement Program, or CIP.

Finance Committee member Margaret Kruse said she was worried about the impact on taxpayers.

“We have the Bancroft School tax increase coming online,” she said. “The rest of these projects might come in the next year or two or three.”

Kruse said if selectmen put forth the projects as tax overrides, “they probably won’t all pass. If you throw them all out there at once, they’ll all fail.”

Several residents agreed.

“It’s staggering the amount of tax increases we are getting,” Mike Roli of 2 College Circle said. “People can’t afford this. Maybe some people can, but a lot of us, a lot of seniors, are having difficulty.”

Greg Rigby of 131 Rattlesnake Road said the average tax bill in town has gone up 46 percent over the last 10 years.

“It’s not just seniors who are affected,” he said. “Everybody in town is affected. You have to get control of taxes.”

The Bancroft School project, which cost about $50 million, was paid for partly through a voter-approved debt service override, which adds about $100 to the average tax bill starting in 2015. But that’s on top of about an additional $238 a year taxpayers are shelling out now for big-ticket items approved in the past, such as the Public Safety Center.

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