A few weekends ago, Andover voted to allow our property taxes to be raised, yet again. Those taxes pay for 75% of the town’s budget, and a near majority of the annual budget goes toward our schools.
Setting aside the timing – as many Americans and, yes, even citizens of Andover struggle to deal with the economic implications of COVID-19 – our unquestioning propensity to pony up whatever assessments the Town asks for is mind-blowing.
I moved here 15 years ago with the promise of great schools for a growing family, a nice town center, and a yard with room for dogs and, eventually, three children to play (that combination was hard to find affordably closer to Boston).
Back then, Andover High School was ranked 38th in the state and seemed on the rise.
Fast forward to 2020. Andover High is ranked 72nd, following years of contentious labor relations, driven by a vocal minority of high school teachers who now don’t want to show up for school. Oh, and we spent $50 million-plus on an elementary school (but we did get eco-friendly toilets).
The town keeps overspending, and we keep agreeing to pay the bill. There’s little restraint, no sacrifice, no hard choices. The town hides behind Proposition 2 ½ and special assessments, and the budget keeps going up (nearly 4% this year).
At what point will we demand accountability? When will we say the budget doesn’t actually have to go up every year -- especially when the economy is in crisis, we’re hurting, many services (including schools) are mostly virtual, and demands on infrastructure are relatively light?
Until we find the resolve to finally say “enough’s enough," the blame (and the check) is on us!