Valley Patriot Editorial: Come Join the Circus in North Andover


May 5, 2007

 We are looking forward to the circus that will take place at this year’s May 14th North Andover Town Meeting.

 On the town warrant to be decided by North Andover voters is a Proposition 2 ½ Override. A memo of agreement signed on by the Board of Selectman, the School Committee and the Finance Committee calls for the approval of a $1.65 million tax override.

 A warrant article by petitioner Sandy Gleed (Article 13) calls for a $3.5 million override. Gleed’s article seeks the amount of additional money required to fully fund the schools’ restoration budget. The memo of understanding is a compromise, seeking less than the full amount, but more than the original Town Manager’s recommendation based upon expected ’08 revenues.

 Voters at town meeting can vote on Article 13 as is, or amend the article to the $1.65 million … or somewhere in between. If an override article is approved, then a special election may be called for voters to go to the polls to accept or reject the override.

 Town Meeting will be entertaining. There will be the usual hysterical, pro-override advocates like Cindy Jalbert and Diane Huster and the typical “no-override, no matter what” activists like NATA President Ted Tripp and Selectman Jim Xenakis.

 Hopefully, the rest of the voters are somewhere in the middle, willing to listen to the budget presentations, consider the merits of each argument and ask relevant questions before deciding how they will vote on the override.

 If you come to the circus, before you make a decision be sure our officials answer the necessary questions about the town budget. Questions like: is the money for the override needed because we have to pay a new superintendent $180,000, plus $186,000 for the Harry Harutunian settlement? Make sure the school officials fully provide an itemization of where the override money will go. And do not accept such platitudes like: it’s “for the children” or “for the police,” or it’s to keep Cindy Jalbert employed at central office. Answers that are not specific such as these are unacceptable.

 Be an informed voter and come to the circus at Town Meeting on May 14th. Bring your cotton candy and enjoy the Greatest Show on Earth.