Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 27, 2014

Taxes a worthwhile investment in town


The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

I am a senior citizen; in fact, I am 70-something. I raised my children in Andover. Their education in Andover schools was paid for by all the taxpayers of Andover because in my daughters’ school-attending years, my real estate tax payment probably did not cover the cost of their Andover education. I think educating the children of our community is the most important thing we do and I am happy to help pay for the education of someone else’s children, just as someone else helped to pay for the education of my daughters, now in their 40s.

By the time this is printed, we will know who has been elected to the Board of Selectmen. Much of the conversation has been about Andover’s taxes. I have lived in Andover for more than 40 years and moved to my current home in 2009. The tax increase since I moved has averaged 2.7 percent per year, not an overwhelming burden. I moved to a smaller home, not because of taxes, but because I needed less space. My move cut my heating bill in half and my taxes, now still well under $7,000 per year, decreased by 18 percent. I was pleased to find that there are many modest, three-bedroom homes with less than 2,000 square feet of living space in Andover, just right for a person whose family has grown and left home. I am also pleased to contribute to the education of the town’s children (including three of my grandchildren, all of whom are attending Andover schools) as well as to the preservation of open space and a town government we should all be proud of.

I believe the town has spent its money wisely and our quality of life is directly related to the wise allocation of town resources. The investments we have made in our town contribute to strong housing values. For most of us, our home is our most valuable asset. It is our schools and our open space that attract new residents and create a strong demand for our homes when we are ready to sell.

Most seniors have paid off their mortgages. In addition, the town has provided financial relief to seniors in two ways. All senior homeowners, over 60, are welcome to volunteer in the town’s SCRPT program and earn a $675-per-year tax abatement as they contribute their time to provide needed town services. Additional tax relief is available to assist income-eligible seniors.

As we make decisions about town budgets and projects in the coming years, I hope we will do it as wisely as our predecessors, with concern for the impact 20 to 30 years from now, not just next year’s tax bill. Specifically, allocating free cash to help fund the town’s unfunded pension benefits, to mitigate the tax burden on future generations of taxpayers, is a wise recommendation.

Susan Stott

30 Pasho St.