The Town of Andover has an Open Town Meeting form of government meaning that any registered voter may vote at Town Meeting. Town Meeting is the legislative body of the Town. It convenes, at least annually at the time and place designated by the Selectmen. Town Meeting considers and adopts an annual operating budget. It also considers and acts upon other matters which require Town Meeting action such as zoning changes, street acceptances, by-law additions and amendments. The business of each Town Meeting is contained in a document known as "the Warrant" which includes all matters on which the Town will act. The Warrant is published in at least one local paper and mailed to all registered voters within a Finance Committee Report in advance of the Town Meeting. Articles are inserted in the Warrant by the Board of Selectmen and by Citizen Petition. The order is determined by the Selectmen.
Who's Who At Town Meeting
- Town Meeting Members - All registered voters may participate in Andover's Open Town Meeting. Participants display prominently ribbons or badges which are given out at the beginning of the meeting and returned at its conclusion.
- The Moderator - presides over and conducts the meeting. He/She is an elected official.
- Town Clerk - Is the chief election official, custodian of the Town's records, and recording secretary of the meeting.
- Board of Selectmen - (5) Elected policy making body, appoints Town Manager and compiles the Warrant.
- Town Manager - Appointed by the Board of Selectmen, the Manager prepares the budget and submits it to the Selectmen and the Finance Committee on or before a date certain. A voter may direct questions to the Manager relating to the budget or to warrant articles.
- Finance Director - Has primary responsibility for the budget, reports to the Town Manager, and is an information resource at the meeting.
- Finance Committee - (9) Appointed by the Moderator, it reviews the budget, makes recommendations on all financial matters, prepares and distributes to all Andover households a printed report of its recommendations and other relevant information, to assist Town Meeting in making final decisions.
- School Committee - (5) Elected and responsible for the operation of the educational system, prepares the school budget, appoints the Superintendent, and defines educational philosophy and policy.
- Superintendent of Schools - Chief executive officer for implementing school committee policy and directives.
- Town Counsel - Chief legal officer and legal advisor to the Town Meeting.
- Planning Board - (5) Appointed by the Manager with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, it advises Town Meeting on a range of planning and zoning matters.
- Conservation Commission - (7) Appointed by the Manager as custodian of Town owned conservation land. It recommends land acquisitions to the Meeting.
- Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational School - (1) Member elected as Andover representative to that school's committee. Explains Andover's share of operating costs.
By-Laws Relating to Town Meeting
- Town Meeting Schedule - The Annual Town Meeting for the election of officers shall be held on the fourth Tuesday in March, each year. Andover has regularly adjourned its Town Meeting after the election to a later time for consideration of the rest of the Warrant. Special Town Meetings may be held at such times and places as the Selectmen may designate. Any meeting may be adjourned from time to time to any place in the Town.
- Warrants - Attested copies of the Warrant shall be posted in or on the Town Office Building in such other public places as the Selectmen may designate and in at least one newspaper of general circulation within the Town fourteen days or more before the date of the meeting.
- Annual Town Report - At least seven days before the annual meeting the Town Manager shall make available to all registered voters an annual report. A summary of the report shall be delivered to each Andover household at least seven days before the Annual Meeting, or may be included in the Finance Committee's Report.
- Vote by Ballot - A motion for a secret ballot is in order and requires approval of 25% of those voting.
- Admission of other than registered voters - Only Andover residents who are registered voters are allowed in the voting sections of Town Meeting. Unregistered voters and non residents may request admission by submitting their names and addresses to the Moderator through election officials at the entrance of Town Meeting. They may be admitted by a majority vote of those present. The Moderator shall designate a place set apart from the general assembly where such persons may sit. The Moderator shall also set apart a space where accredited representatives of the press shall sit.
Budget Terms Used At Town Meeting
- Budget - A financial plan for a given period of time embodying both estimates of proposed expenditures and the proposed means of financing them.
- Fiscal Year - Cities and towns in Massachusetts operate on a fiscal year which begins July 1 and ends June 30. The number of the fiscal year is the calendar year when it ends.
- Levy Limit - Under Proposition 2 1/2 the maximum amount that a community can raise in property taxes is 2.5% more than the maximum it was allowed to raise for the prior fiscal year plus growth revenue.
- Growth Revenue - The amount of property tax revenue a community can add to its tax levy by taxing new construction. It is computed using the prior year's tax rate.
- Excess Levy Capacity - The difference between a community's maximum tax levy limit and the amount it actually levies in property taxes.
- Free Cash - The amount of surplus revenue over and above uncollected taxes as of July 1 of each year as certified by the State. It is available for appropriation by Town Meeting.
- Overlay - The overlay is the amount raised by the Assessors independently of Town Meeting as permitted by law for the purpose of creating a fund to cover property tax abatements and avoid fractions in the tax rate.
- Reserve Fund - The fund established by the voters at Annual Town Meeting for extraordinary or unforeseen expenditures. Transfers from the Reserve Fund require the approval of the Finance Committee.
- Cherry Sheet - Named for the cherry colored paper on which the Massachusetts Department of Revenue traditionally printed it on, the cherry sheet details the estimated state aid to be received by the Town along with the County and State assessments to be paid.
- Conservation Fund - The fund established by Town Meeting several years ago for the purpose of acquiring land for conservation purposes. The Town has made periodic appropriations to the fund. The fund is administered by the Conservation Commission.
- Compensation Fund - A reserve for salary adjustments that may occur during the fiscal year. Transfers from the Compensation Fund require the approval of the Board of Selectmen.
- Override - A referendum procedure in which a community by popular vote can either increase its levy limit (general override) or collect property taxes in excess of its levy limit to finance specific capital expenditures (debt exclusion or capital outlay exclusion overrides).
The Moderator is elected each year for a 1-year term, and is responsible for facilitating Town Meeting proceedings and appointing the members of the Finance Committee.
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Read current and previous warrants and results.
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