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Andover’s Annual Town Meeting begins Monday, May 1, and will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, if necessary, until all 41 articles on the 2023 warrant have been addressed. Each session begins at 7 p.m. at the Collins Center on the Andover High School campus.
This cheat sheet has everything you need to know about Town Meeting 2023, including background information, explainers on key warrant articles, details on how to participate, and information on registration, parking and child care.
Scroll down to learn more about what’s on the warrant, how Andover Annual Town Meeting works, how to participate, and a list of useful links.
More coverage of the 2023 Annual Town on Andover News.
What’s On The Warrant
Annual Town Meeting is Andover’s legislative body, and open to any Andover resident over 18 who registered to vote by April 21. Non-residents and nonvoters can attend and will be seated in a special section.
Andover is the biggest Massachusetts town by population to have an open town meeting, one of two most common forms of town government used in the state. In the other form of town meeting, voters elect representatives by ward or precinct.
“The purest form of democratic governing is practiced in a Town Meeting. In use for over 300 years and still today, it has proven to be a valuable means for many Massachusetts taxpayers to voice their opinions and directly effect change in their communities,” according to the Secretary of State’s Citizen’s Guide to Town Meeting. “Here in this ancient American assembly, you can make your voice heard as you and your neighbors decide the course of the government closest to you.”
Many articles on the annual warrant are house-keeping articles, but several others can have significant impacts on taxes, government spending, zoning and capital improvements. The Town’s annual budget is also up for approval at Annual Town Meeting.
Throughout the month of April, Andover News is previewing key article’s on this year’s warrant. This list will be updated as additional articles are previewed:
- Article 4: Fiscal 2024 Budget
- Article 7: Excess Borrowing Capacity
- Articles 13 and 14: Electronic Voting
- Articles 25 and 26: Ledge Road Landfill
- Article 27: Funding an Active Transportation Plan with Uber/Lyft surcharges
- Article 37: Town Manager Residency Requirement
- Article 41: Zoning By-law Update
How Town Meeting Works
Depending on the issue, motions may need a simple majority, two-thirds, or super majority vote to pass. Andover does not have specific policies or rules for when each type of vote is used, but instead relies on advice from legal counsel on Town Meeting vote thresholds.
Voters who want to use visual displays or slides must make arrangements with the Town Clerk’s Office before the meeting. Call 978-623-8230 for more information.
According to the Andover’s Town Meeting FAQs, articles are considered in the order they appear on the warrant. Articles must be moved by a registered Andover voter on the floor of Town Meeting to open discussion on the article.
If you want to speak on an article: A voter can be recognized by standing and saying “Madam Moderator.”
- Speakers must give their name and address before speaking.
- A motion can be made at the opening of Town Meeting to limit the time for presentations and speakers. Such motions usually apply to all warrant articles.
- Speakers can only be interrupted for a point of order, questions on the legality of the motion, or a question for clarification.
- The Moderator may use of Pro/Con Microphones to help organize the debate on controversial articles.
If you want to amend an article:
- Present your amendment in writing to the Moderator.
- The Moderator will open discussion on the amendment.
- The Moderator will call for a vote on the amendment only.
- If passed, the amended article will be voted on. Otherwise, discussion will resume on the original article.
- Amendments to amendments “are usually ruled out of order.”
Types of Motions:
- Voters can and are encouraged to ask budget questions and can address the Moderator on any line item in the Finance Committee’s report.
- The Moderator can determine the outcome of each article by voice vote, but a standing vote can be called if the decision is questioned.
- Reconsideration is rarely used to correct an oversight or an illegality.
- A meeting may adjourn to a later time and a different place, but when a meeting is dissolved it is finished. A meeting may not be dissolved until every article in the Warrant has been acted upon.
Participating In Town Meeting
To participate in Annual Town Meeting, you needed to register to vote no later than April 21. Non-voters can attend and will be seated in a special section. The town urges voters and nonvoters to arrive early to sign in at the Town Clerk’s Table.
Childcare: The Town offers babysitting for kids in grades K-5 whose parents want to attend Annual Town Meeting. Call Andover Recreation at 978-623-8340 for more information.
Parking: Attendees should park in the Collins Center Lot, the main lot at the high school, the West Middle school lot, the lot beside the field house or on Red Spring Road.
Transportation: Andover Elder Services will be offering transportation and parking lot shuttle. Call 978-623-8320 for more info.
- Annual Town Meeting info on Town of Andover Website
- 2023 Annual Town Meeting Warrant
- Information on Andover Moderator Sheila M. Doherty
- Town Meeting FAQs
- Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Citizen’s Guide to Town Meetings
File photo: West Elementary School Building Committee Chair Joel Blumstein addresses Special Town Meeting in December.