Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 17, 2014

Funding for drug counselor a must


But then selectmen ordered Stapczynski to eliminate all new hires. The town manager went back to the budget, cutting the office assistant from AYS, along with several other positions in other departments. The menu of cuts led to an anguished debate among selectmen, who quickly realized they may have painted themselves into a corner with their call for no new employees, particularly with regard to the AYS budget.

Selectman Dan Kowalski said that cutting the AYS staff person amounted to a “policy decision” that was basically saying selectmen didn’t care about the heroin problem in town.

But Kowalski and other board members argued passionately last week in favor of filling the position, and were expected to do so again at a meeting this Wednesday night.

Selectman Paul Salafia summed it up nicely when he said he didn’t want to see the town go through what he called the “municipal dance,” consisting of studies and workshops and panel discussions followed by more indecision and, “eight months from now, someone will come out with a report and we won’t fill the position.”

“I think this position could be critical,” he told The Townsman this week. “This problem is too big and has gotten too out of control too quickly for us to ignore it for another budget year.”

Salafia is right.

The town should fill the position, and hire someone at AYS, which at this point in time is the best — and perhaps the only — local agency equipped to handle the difficult task of counseling families coping with opiate addiction.

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