ABC Newspapers | Andover investing in maintenance while planning expansions

The Andover City Council Sept. 19 unanimously approved a preliminary levy for 2018 that is 4 percent higher than 2017’s levy.

The proposed 2018 levy of approximately $12.42 million includes levies for the general fund ($8.64 million), debt service ($1.6 million), and an “other levies” category that includes seven different levies and amounts to about $2.17 million.

The council will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 before deciding on a final levy number for 2018. The levy could stay at $12.42 million or be lowered, but it cannot be increased.

City Administrator Jim Dickinson noted that the market value of all Andover properties is 12.5 percent higher than the previous year. Although there have been new housing developments much of the growth comes from current properties doing better.

“The market is hot,” Mayor Julie Trude said. “We have new lots on the market. We have more lots that will come on the market because people want to live here.”

So although the levy could be up to 4 percent higher, many properties will see much smaller increases than that.

Lee Brezinka, assistant finance director, provided six different examples of residential properties. A home valued at $188,700 in 2017 paid $650 in city taxes in 2017. This same home will be valued at $205,300 in 2018 but city taxes are only $6 more for the year. A $230,400 home in 2017 will be valued at $253,500 in 2018 and the city taxes would increase from $846 to $862. On the higher end of the examples is a $374,700 home increasing in value to $409,000. The city annual taxes for this home would bump up from $1,411 to $1,433.

These figures do not include taxes paid to the county, school district and other taxing authorities.

Some of the biggest increases in the budget put more money into roads and trails maintenance. The city is also planning ahead for new public works buildings and expansions at the Andover YMCA Community Center. The city has been assembling land next to the community center and public works campus. The vision is for new public works buildings on the northeast corner of Crosstown Boulevard and Nightingale Street and open parkland between public works and the community center.

The council has previously stated that the public works improvements are priority number one, but it is looking at community center expansion opportunities as well. Dickinson has said that 2019 would likely be the soonest that any community center project could happen.

Dickinson said the city has been waiting for old debt to be paid off so the tax increase would not be as high whenever expansions happen.

“We don’t plan a budget just looking at each year isolated,” Trude said. “We are trying to look at big picture overall.”

Council Member Jim Goodrich said Andover’s finance staff has done a good job in setting aside enough reserves in case there are emergencies.

“Working with the staff on these financial matters as a resident I feel very safe with their conservative, fiscal policies,” Goodrich said.

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