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North Andover Patch Person of the Year 2013

Andrew Maylor has shaped how the town discusses fiscal policy in a time when voters insist on that conversation.

In June of this year, voters at Town Meeting approved a bold ESCO project, similar to the one they rejected a year before. It had failed to attract the 2/3 majority needed in 2012, largely because the Finance Committee opposed the project.

But after that defeat, Town Manager Andrew Maylor -- prime proponent of the ESCO proposal -- kept up his efforts promoting the ESCO proposal as a means to save money. In 2012, the Finance Committee rejected it and voters followed suit, with the Finance Committee saying they didn't have enough information to justify more than $4 million in spending on energy savings.

Maylor scaled the proposal back, shaving more than $300,000 off the previous plan and, and it's set to be paid off in less time, with projected energy savings.

It's that strategic negotiating and effort for fiscal responsibility that make Maylor this year's North Andover Patch Person of the Year.

A note about this distinction: It's not a popularity contest, but rather someone who has been involved in the news that shaped our year. Last year, the Person of the Year was Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw, who worked tirelessly to manage multiple elections in a presidential election cycle in addition to Town Meeting.

This year, the big news theme was finances. Selectmen and Maylor have had to maintain a balance between economic development -- which almost every sitting selectman has run on -- and fiscal restraint, which the voters have called for. Rising health care costs and retirement benefits have municipal officials nationwide scrambling to tread water.

A consensus budget is difficult in a struggling economy, but the North Andover Board of Selectmen has managed to pass a consensus budget five years in a row, under guidance of the town manager.

When Maylor took the reins in 2011, he said his main objective would be to build a fiscal structure that promotes savings and responsibility.

One way he went about that was suggesting multiple reserve funds to better save and manage money, calling for $250,000 to be taken out of "free cash" and put into three separate reserve accounts -- $200,000 to the Stabilization Fund, $25,000 to a reserve fund for post-employment benefits and $25,000 into a new Capital Stabilization Fund, to be used specifically for capital investments in the community.

And in addition to all of that, Maylor has taken on the big beast known as retirement benefits. In a few years, retirement costs are expected to cripple the town's finances unless they are paid for. Maylor has pushed for savings to be put aside for that, jumping ahead of the oncoming fiscal crisis.

And then there's Bradstreet. Voters decided at Town Meeting to allow selectmen to sell the Bradstreet School building. After a sale was approved to Hearthstone, the North Andover Historical Commission voted to impose a moratorium on demolition. Maylor is taking that in stride, with cooperation from the developer to hold off until that moratorium is over.

At Town Meeting (and on Patch boards), many oppose theses efforts and some say they don't go far enough. The ESCO project has been referred to as a "boondoggle," among other things. And supporters of leaving Bradstreet School standing have labeled him almost an aggressor.

But in a year focused on budget and sustainability, on searching for new paths for fiscal policy and economic development, North Andover's town manager has begun to reshape the way the town does business in 2013.
MikeA December 31, 2013 at 08:55 PM
We didn't get a chance to nominate anyone? What's the world coming to? On a unrelated note, perennial person of the year non-winner but somehow re-electable Congressman John Tierney just sent out an increasingly rare taxpayer funded mailing. The mailing is just as vacuous as his previous mailings. The most interesting part was that the mailing was printed with "Certified Wind Power", "Printed with Soy Ink", printed on recycled paper, and a super small unreadable GCC/IBT symbol. Its as if the Congressman is ashamed that Teamsters union labor was used to print the mailing. If I were the Teamsters, I would require my label to be much larger so that its legible. What does it say when a printing union allows its label to be printed in such an illegible fashion?

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