Editor, Townsman:

As a member of Andover’s Select Board, I have worked with Selectman Alex Vispoli and respect his opinion when it comes to financial and taxation issues.

On March 14, I voted to support a 4.6% increase in annual property taxes because in the long term I felt it was in the best interest of Andover taxpayers. The vote acknowledged the 3.65%, 10-year average rate increase and added a one-time 0.95% ($1.7 million) to fund long-term debt associated with our unfunded pension liability.

Although the tax rate represented an increase, the average 2021 residential tax bill will be $40 less per household.

Addressing our unfunded pension liability also has a positive impact on our bond rating, meaning the town can borrow money at a lower interest rate.

For these reasons, I voted to support Article #4, the Town Manager’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021.

It is important to note that the Select Board does not make these recommendations alone.

On March 14, a representative of the Finance Committee was present at our meeting and reported that it had unanimously recommended approval of Article 4. I respect the Finance Committee and remain grateful for their hard work to guide our financial obligations.

Since our vote on March 14, we have seen an unprecedented response to COVID-19. The impact that these worldwide issues have on our town finances was unanticipated. We know more today than we did on March 14, and as such, we owe it to the residents of Andover to revisit our discussion on the tax rate and 2021 annual budget.

For these reasons, I requested that Article 4 be placed on our May 18 regular Select Board agenda for reconsideration.

Please remember that the final vote comes from Town Meeting, and all are welcome and encouraged to attend.

I look forward to your participation and encourage you to let your voice be heard.

Christian Huntress

Member, Select Board

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