The Andover Select Board put a placeholder on the Town Meeting warrant and will continue discussing a recommendation from the Andover Town Governance Study Committee to remove a residency requirement for Andover town managers from the town charter.
The rule dates to the adoption of the town charter in the 1950s and requires anyone hired as town manager to live in Andover. A consultant told the select board towns were increasingly doing away with such requirements at Monday’s meeting.
Select board member Annie Gilbert signaled she was in favor of the change, but wanted to wait to vote before making a recommendation because it involved a charter change and the board needed to allow more time for public input.
More select board coverage: Andover Town Meeting May Get Electronic Voting
But the proposal may face road blocks; while board member Laura Gregory joined Gilbert in signaling support for the proposal, Christian Huntress said he may be inclined to keep the requirement in place. Even if the select board recommends lifting the requirement, the proposal would still have to be approved by Town Meeting and receive approval from the state legislature.
Sheila Doherty, who served on the town governance study committee, said she was the sole dissenting vote when the committee voted to recommend lifting the residency requirement. She said she believes its reasonable to expect the manager to have “skin in the game
“Just because many other towns have chosen to lift this doesn’t mean Andover has to do it,” she said.
Bernie Lynch, a consultant who was previously town manager in Chelmsford and city manager in Lowell, said residency requirements no longer used in a majority of Massachusetts communities. They were adopted because towns wanted their manager nearby if something happened in town, and an “argument someone coming from outside would not have full appreciation of the values of the community.”
“It’s not as prevalent as it was,” Lynch said. “When Andover adopted its charter back in the 1950s, there were just not many manager positions in the Commonwealth.”
Lynch said lifting the requirement will also increase the pool of candidates that would apply for a town manager’s opening. “It’s a very competitive market right now for town managers. It’s very hard to tell someone they have to move, sometimes just one town over,” he said.
In Other Business:
Monday’s meeting was held at the Cormier Youth Center. In other business, the select board:
- Approved hiring Phillip Geoffrey as the town’s first communications director at an annual salary of $98,500.
Video of Jan. 9 Select Board meeting from Andover TV:
0:00:00 Call to Order, presentation on Cormier Center.
0:05:10 Liaison Reports
0:07:00 Select Board member updates
0:08:51 Public Comment
0:10:50 Town Governance (town manger residency requirement, electronic voting at town meeting)
1:26:30 IT Surplus Property Disposal
1:29:30 Consent Agenda