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A full plate for Andover town meeting  

Credit:  By Alison Aloisio, The Bethel Citizen, www.bethelcitizen.com 10 March 2011 ~~

An increase in hours for the town treasurer, and an increase in the Med-Care budget.

Upgrades to the Farmer’s Hill Road, and to the town’s computer software.

The future of the Grimaldi recreation field, and of wind power in the region.

Those are a few of the issues Andover residents will consider at the March 19 Town Meeting.

The proposed municipal budget is $577,841, said selectboard Chair Susan Merrow, up from last year’s $520,000.

But, Merrow noted, the budget is still significantly lower than several previous years, such as the $633,000 of two years ago. The current mil rate is 10.43.

TREASURER, SOFTWARE

After finding that Treasurer Barbara Simmons’ duties over the past year have required an average of 20 hours a week instead of the allotted 10, selectmen are proposing to double the hours and the annual compensation (from $6,967 to $13,934).

The board also recommends paying her $2,000 for extra hours worked over the past year.

In a related proposal, selectmen support upgrading the computer software for the town’s financial accounting system ($5,600), as well as for motor vehicle registration collection ($5,950) and property tax collection ((7,600).

Merrow said upgrading the treasurer’s software should make her work more cost-effective and eventually reduce the required hours.

And, she said, the current software systems in the town office are not integrated, requiring repetitive entries of data that are labor-intensive. The upgrades would provide integration and greater efficiency.

MED-CARE

This year’s request from Med-Care Ambulance is $18 per capita, up $2 from last year. In January the Mexico-based service updated its request and asked for an additional, slight increase, said Merrow, but selectmen declined to put it on the warrant. “They only get to request it once a year,” she said.

Med-Care is planning to build a new station, she said, in a different location from one proposed three years ago.

That plan triggered strong objections from some member towns, including Andover, because of the cost.

CITIZEN REQUESTS

A citizen request to rebuild the Farmer’s Hill Road in the future proposes raising $30,000 this year, with more money to be raised in subsequent years. The funds would be placed in a designated account for the project, Merrow said. (The proposed overall municipal budget figure of $577,841 does not include the Farmer’s Hill Road article.)

Another citizen-requested article asks if the town will vote to sell the Grimaldi Field property on Route 120.

Andover purchased the 37-acre property in 1997 for $19,000, with all but $3,300 paid through citizen donations.

A baseball diamond was laid out on the site and a storage shed built, but further improvements for baseball have stalled in recent years as the population of youngsters has shrunk.

“We don’t have enough kids now,” said Merrow, to justify more work.

Recreation trails are also located on the land, and are currently used by such recreationists as walkers, snowmobilers, ATVers and horseback riders. The property has also been used for weddings, Olde Home Days and charity events, and as an emergency helicopter landing area.

If townspeople decide to keep the property, other articles propose to post it as a no-hunting area and to post its parking lot as a designated multi-use park and ride area, and to name it “Andover Multi-Use Recreational Area.”

In another non-money article, selectmen propose that voters take a stand against commercial wind power projects in the region surrounding Andover.

Merrow said that while Andover itself does not have much terrain that would lend itself to wind development, “we’ll be affected by wind towers in Roxbury – by the noise and the destruction of the mountaintops. This gives people an opportunity to say how they feel about it.”

Other articles among the 69 to be considered at the meeting:

$4,000 for maintenance of the concrete wall in the Transfer Station’s burn area;

$3,000 for an engineering study for repairs to the Crockett Bridge on Cross Street;

$3,300 to upgrade Highway Department radios to comply with statewide changes to narrow band;

Donation of a 1982 fire truck for a proposed new fire training curriculum at Region 9;

Establishment of a committee to research fences and prices for the Andover West Woodlawn Cemetery.

ELECTIONS

In town elections, Merrow is running unopposed for another three-year term, as is School Director Tim Akers. Voting will take place March 22 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Town Hall.

The March 19 meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Town Hall.

During a noontime break, the Andover Service Circle will provide lunch downstairs at the hall for $5 (soups, stews, chowders, cornbread and dessert).

Source:  By Alison Aloisio, The Bethel Citizen, www.bethelcitizen.com 10 March 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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