Once again October brought the Budget Committee (BC) together on Thursday nights to receive, question, review, and deliberate all department requests, and we quickly got down to business.
The Andover Budget Committee was composed of six members. We had four elected members: Donna Crisp Duclos, Jessica Rand, Mark Cowdrey, and Aimee Raciti, and two appointed members: Dana Swenson and James Reed.
There were four ex-officio representing the Select Board (Andy Guptill), the Fire District (Greg Stetson), the Water District (Toby Locke), and the Andover School Board (Kayla Chandler). This year Andover was very fortunate to have such a competent, hard-working group of citizens.
The plan this year was to have departments present to the Select Board and then the following week present the same information and requests to the BC. By and large, that process worked well. Having Andy Guptill as the Select Board ex-officio was very productive. He was often able to offer more in-depth information to the BC.
Overall, the BC reduced the Select Board and department requests by $88,868. That is after the Select Board and BC agreed that the Police Department should increase staffing by one new full-time officer. We didn’t budget for 12 months of pay and benefits, because it will take at least six months to find and train a new staff person.
The BC did not feel a new full-time position divided between the Highway Department and the Transfer Station was necessary this year. We also felt that the Welfare Officer was a position the Town Administrator should be filling, so did not add that stipend to the budget. As always, all insurance costs increased this year, but with the recommended cuts, those costs are covered.
The School Board and SAU office brought a tight, efficient budget to the BC, with most increases out of the control of the board – utilities, etc. The increase is .009%, a result of keeping costs down without cutting service for the students.
The BC and Select Board did not agree on all the warrant articles. The BC wanted to put off the purchase of a new highway vehicle for one year while discussions around the highway garage continues.
Once again, the citizens of Andover have had the benefit of a hard-working, very competent group of people who gave up their Thursday evenings to bring a tight budget to you. Thank you.