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Andover makes a stand
ANDOVER- At their annual town meeting held on Saturday, selectmen were looking to gain approval for a $55,000 budget increase, citizens had a different idea. The 60-plus residents in attendance held their own and are now looking at a final budget of $521,586.34, an increase of just $1,586.34.
However, the town came together to make a stand that they will not consider the construction of commercial wind turbines.
While this town has a height ordinance already in place, as well as a restrictive site plan, a majority of the residents still in attendance toward the end of the day were in favor of making a statement that they did not want to welcome commercial wind.
Selectman Trudy Akers stated, “We thought it would be a good idea to see how people felt about it. We're not against wind. We already have a few wind mills in town, but we wanted to make a stand against the big commercial companies.”
For personal reasons, Selectman Akers noted that she is concerned whether or not the wind companies would stand behind the turbines once in place. “There are too many unanswered questions about their impact on the area,” stated Akers.
The atmosphere inside the historic town hall got pretty heated several times during the traditional day-long meeting that included the traditional lunch of soups, stews, chowders and biscuits provided by the Andover Service Circle.
While residents agreed to freeze all town employee salaries for the year and not to give them the three-percent increase they were looking for, the town did approve the 20-hour treasurer to be paid a salary of $10,500; only to be reviewed in one year, after which the new accounting system is implemented and hours/wages may be cut at that time.
“We cannot sustain the style of living we had in the past,” declared resident Dinah Cutting. “If we have to cut town office hours, we have to do it. If we have to cut transfer station hours, we have to do it. I've had to make adjustments in my household budget, the town has to look at cutting theirs as well.”
This town is not alone, in that they are struggling to support their local library. To keep the historic library in operation for the next year, the amount of $26,500 was being sought.
“Our budget reflects all of our operations,” stated Tina Farrington. “It takes care of the electricity, fuel, computer, any repairs that need to be done to the building, books and my salary. Our library is known in many other states for all that we offer here.”
Following some discussion on reducing the amount that would be funded, residents held true to the value of what the building offers and approved the amount requested.
Another large ticket item that went before residents was the citizen request to sell Grimaldi Field and to donate the town's 1982 E-One Fire Engine to Region 9. Of which, both were overwhelmingly voted down. The fire engine will remain for sale to the highest bidder.
Of the $13,383 in appropriations requested from various organizations, the town cut those funds by more than half and gave requesting organizations a total of $6,585. The sum of $500 and greater of the funds going to Community Concepts ($1,000), Androscoggin HomeCare & Hospice ($830), Tri-County Mental Health ($800), Western Maine Transit ($600), River Valley Healthy Communities ($500), and the Andover Food Pantry ($500).