Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

April 24, 2013

Time to say 'no' to out-of-control spending


The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, The Townsman

The upcoming annual Town Meeting, starting on May 6, contains a large number of articles proposing new spending that, if approved, will propel residential property taxes even further into the stratosphere. One of the most egregious of the spending articles, Article 30, innocuously titled “Zoning Bylaw Amendment — Andover Transit Oriented Development District” — is really the town manager’s and selectmen’s clever wording to camouflage the fact that this proposed zoning change and the location to which it is to apply is really the stalking horse for their town yard relocation pet project, a project that will cost residents at least $20 million.

Andoverites have given this town yard relocation scheme a resounding “no” over the past two years. At the 2011 Town Meeting, the town manager and selectmen withdrew their megabucks article to relocate the town yard when it became clear that residents would vote it down. Last year, this same scheme was put up for a vote and residents again said “no.” But like a vampire that won’t die, this $20-million-plus, white-elephant of a scheme keeps rising from the dead, at the insistence of the town manager and several selectmen, ready to suck tens of millions of additional dollars out of our pockets.

At Town Meeting, we will be treated to a PowerPoint presentation by the selectmen on the supposed merits of this scheme that would make the proponents of the invasion of Iraq proud. The selectmen will trot out consultants’ studies claiming that this project “will pay for itself” (sound familiar? Just like the invasion of Iraq was sold to the public by the Bush administration as a war that would “pay for itself” from Iraqi oil revenues). Consultants know that their bread is always buttered by reading their client’s watch and telling the client what time it says.) But it’s the same big-spending bad deal for town residents that it has been in all previous years.

The cold, hard reality of this scheme is that it is built upon a set of assumptions that are such a monumental house of cards that if one, just one, of the selectmen’s rose-colored-glasses assumptions is off, even slightly, this project will become a financial white elephant of galactic proportions.

It is a sad commentary on the town manager’s and selectmen’s priorities that they continually put forward pet megabucks projects like this wasteful town yard relocation scheme at the same time they force the town’s kids to pay hundreds of dollars per year in fees for bus transportation to school and for extracurricular activities at school.

Since our town manager and several of our selectmen cannot control their spending benders, I urge every town resident to attend this year’s Town Meeting and vote “new” on the many new spending articles being proposed by the town manager and the selectmen, especially Articles 30 and 31, which are a backdoor attempt to sneak a huge financial white elephant under everyone’s noses. It’s time to put a stop to Town Hall’s spending binges. It’s time we parents and grandparents said “NO to new spending by Town Hall while our kids and grandkids are being forced to pay fees to get to school.”

BOB POKRESS

Co-founder of TownOfAndover.com

3 Cherrywood Circle