Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

April 24, 2013

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

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.

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