Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

August 16, 2012

Editorials: 'Savings' has obvious meaning; Mudslinging in the 6th

Half of Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski’s raise is tied to whether he has found $225,000 in sustainable savings in Andover’s more than $140 million budget. He is arguing that he can outsource work, eliminate town positions, and total the savings created without counting the amount spent on hiring outside companies to do the work. The idea is absurd, and selectmen seem to realize it.

Based on their comments, selectmen don’t want to reward the town manager simply for robbing Peter to pay Paul. The town manager simply wants to get paid as much as possible.

Selectman Dan Kowalski told Stapczynski it appears he is arguing that he “could have eliminated $500,000 worth of employees, let’s just say hired a company to do it for $1 million, and you’re still saying that you’d be ‘saving’ $500,000.”

Incredibly, Stapczynski answered, “That’s an extreme example, but in part — yes, absolutely.”

Stapczynski went on to say, “Because $500,000 in employees could be 10 employees with all the benefits that go along with 10 employees, and I should be given credit for reducing the head count now and in the future, because that’s less costs we’re going to have.” Of course, the $1 million in outsourcing expenses would continue, too, under that scenario.

The town manager’s goal reads: “Sustainable savings — Achieve $225,000 of sustainable operating budget savings. Savings are defined as salary and health benefits.” The town manager is focusing on the second sentence and willfully ignoring the obvious point. The idea is to have sustainable operating savings. The selectmen are allowing him to include health benefits, not just salary, which should make it easier to achieve the goal. But it does not mean that he can simply pay the salary of non-town workers instead of town employees and think he has met the goal of sustainable savings. He is still spending.

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