"There's limited options in terms of how we can reconcile" the deficit, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan told the select board (Screenshot/Andover TV)

Andover officials are moving to hold a special town meeting on June 18 in hopes of balancing the Town’s budget — as required by state law — by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

“Quite a bit has to happen between now and then,” Town Manager Andrew Flanagan told the select board Monday night. Under the timeline Flanagan laid out Monday, the school committee will hold a workshop at the Collins Center Thursday to answer questions from the public as well as the select board and finance committee. That would be followed by a joint meeting of the three boards at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Memorial Hall Library, where the select board will be asked to open and close the warrant for the special town meeting.

After rejecting an amendment to increase the school budget by $2.7 million last month, Annual Town Meeting approved increasing it by $1.9 million on a vote of 488-451. While the increase was aimed at saving 34 positions the school department is eliminating, the school committee will have the final say on how — or if — the additional money is spent. The move left the Town with an unbalanced budget.

“I think what’s going to happen between now and next Tuesday is that the school committee is going to take a position conceptually on how they would spend the money,” Flanagan said. “The superintendent said with the [an additional $283,000 in unanticipated state funding] she may hire student facing positions that meet current needs of the district.”

Special town meeting would only determine how the additional money is raised to balance the budget.

“We still don’t have a funding source,” select board member Melissa Danisch said. “So we have to go back to town meeting to determine where it comes from and how.”

The two most likely options for closing the deficit:

  1. Using the additional state funding and $600,000 left over from debt service for Doherty Middle School improvements.
  2. Using the additional state funding and $1 million in free cash — an option town officials have been reluctant to pursue, as it could create additional deficits in future years.

“There’s limited options in terms of how we can reconcile” the deficit, Flanagan said.

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