North Andover Town Meeting Approves All But One Article

Christopher Huffaker

NORTH ANDOVER, MA — Town meeting approved North Andover's full annual town meeting warrant, Tuesday, save for one article withdrawn at the petitioner's request.

The meeting was the town's first "al fresco" town meeting, as Moderator Mark DiSalvo described it: it took place outside in the high school's Joe Walsh Stadium, to allow for social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The meeting took just over two hours.

Voters passed the town's $111 million budget, the 10-year tax increment financing agreement for the Amazon warehouse at 1600 Osgood Street, and the purchase of 1 & 3 Surrey Drive for the Senior Center parking lot, and 27 other articles.

The one article not passed would have created a three-year moratorium of crumb rubber in-fill on artificial turf. It was withdrawn at the request of the petitioner.

The $111 million budget includes a 4.5 percent increase in the municipal budget, a 4.52 increase for the schools, and a 1.22 percent increase for support services.

The budget came with a memorandum of understanding between the Select Board, School Committee, Town Manager and Superintendent. The Finance Committee requested the memorandum to prepare for potential financial impacts of the coronavirus. The memorandum outlines where savings would come from in the case of revenue shortfalls, and where extra funds could come from in the case of new expenses.

The memorandum is outlined on pages 39 and 40 of the town meeting packet. The full warrant is available here.

Town officials said the town is relatively insulated to the virus, as most of the town's revenues — 70 percent — come from property taxes, rather than more vulnerable sources like local hotel and meal taxes or state aid.

The Amazon agreement grants the company $27.3 million in tax savings over 10 years. The town is still projected to earn $18.2 million in net new taxes over that period from the development, as well as a community partnership agreement worth $8.6 million.

Voters also approved a $6.5 million capital improvement plan, renamed the Board of Selectmen to the Select Board, and appropriated $1 million from the Community Preservation Fund for seven projects under the direction of the Community Preservation Committee.

Voters peppered officials with questions regarding the budget and the Amazon agreement, but voted nearly to a person in favor of both.

Christopher Huffaker can be reached at 412-265-8353 or chris.huffaker@patch.com.

This article originally appeared on the North Andover Patch