Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

April 17, 2014

Town's finances are managed responsibly

Editor, Townsman:

Two recent letters have made some good points that need support and elaboration. A few weeks ago, Susan Stott (“Taxes a worthwhile investment in town,” March 27) pointed out that not all seniors feel pushed out of town by runaway real estate taxes. Like Ms. Stott, since I moved here in 1963, my children have benefited from our good school system, for which taxpayers both with and without children paid. Now that mine have left the nest,

I am happy to continue my support. My house was purchased for $40,000 in 1972 and is now assessed at $533,000. I’m sure many other seniors have experienced significant appreciation in the value of what for many is their major asset. My real estate taxes have risen somewhere between 4.5 and 5.0 percent per year over the past decade. When one takes into account dollar inflation and significant reduction in the amount of state aid over this period, the rate of increase is almost certainly much less.

All of this suggests to me, along with Ms. Stott, that far from a spendthrift government, Andover is fortunate to have Town Meeting voters, public officials, and volunteer financial watchdogs. They have done a responsible job over the long haul — in both good times and bad.

Earlier this month, Greg Sebasky (“Town needs balanced approach to fiscal woes,” April 3) urged that Andover voters and officials pursue a “balanced approach” rather than “quick fixes” for improving schools, addressing retiree and OPEB costs, and enhancing our commercial tax base. I say amen, but add that the balanced approach should include maintaining Andover’s protected open space resources to match Andover’s historic and likely future growth in population.

When I bought my house in the ‘70s, Andover’s population was around 24,000. In 2000, it was a little over 30,000 and is projected to reach 33,000 in the not-too-distant future. Consistently, in surveys of Andover residents, good schools, with protected open space a close second, are the two top citizen priorities and reasons for folks moving here.

Alan French

17 Moreland Ave.

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