For years now, Andover has had a road agent that oversaw all of the maintenance of our roads, culverts, and virtually anything to do with the transportation of our community. While this worked in the past, it had very limited oversight by the Town and the Board of Selectmen. The result of this created a 38.3% increase in costs from 2014 to 2019. With this drastic increase in Town spending, it was evident that something needed to change.
In March, 2020 a road agent was appointed, rather than elected, for the first time by the Selectmen. This created a working collaborative between the two departments, and they got to work on finding ways to decrease the spending for this department. The result was an expense sheet for the 2020 budget that allowed the Town to purchase new equipment and rent a much-needed backhoe, all while remaining under the year’s budget despite having limited funds remaining in the appropriated budget for 2020.
During the summer of 2020, a Highway Advisory Committee was formed. They worked together to create a revised department structure that would set the future of our Highway Department up for success. These were members of the community that had years of experience in creating structured systems, as well as knowledge of this town and its realistic needs year round.
They picked apart all of the needs and formulated a detailed plan that would not only build up our town’s equipment and facilities, but also decrease the spending on the maintenance of our roads. This resulted in direct taxpayer savings.
As some may have noticed, the way winter plowing and sanding was handled was very different this year. Established plow routes and equipment needs were much more structured, and fixed contract pricing was available for review. This created a much more efficient usage of Town resources.
Additionally, the committee found that with the Town not owning most of its own equipment, there were very large costs associated with renting equipment and operators to complete most of the maintenance needed.
While creating this new structure, cost was at the forefront of everyone’s mind on the committee. They wanted to see improvements to our equipment owned, as well as site improvements without raising taxes in any way.
While this was a goal, it wasn’t known how obtainable it would be. By the end of the committee meetings, the numbers showed that not only was this a possibility, but that a reduction in spending could still be achieved after all of the improvements.
During our next Town Meeting, all of the details will be presented in this matter. Please bring an open mind and listen to all of the facts, as they are truly eye opening. We hope everyone will be ready and willing to better their community.