The following letter to the editor was originally submitted as a story comment by Andover resident Linn Anderson, who served on the Andover Finance Committee from 2012-21. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andover News. You can learn more about our policy on opinion and commentary on our Mission and Policies page.

What should a Finance Committee (FinCom) member’s qualifications be?

It is not sufficient, or even necessary, to have a robust financial background in order to be an effective member, although it certainly helps. Municipal finance is a universe all to itself. It has different accounting rules and regulations subject to standards set by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), not private sector Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). New appointees scramble to familiarize themselves with these different rules. What is important is that FinCom members are willing and able to commit to a steep and time-consuming learning curve about the municipal budget process. It’s a lot of work.

In making her appointments to the 9-member FinCom, Sheila Doherty, Town Moderator, has consistently appointed members representing a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. This diversity has enabled the FinCom to review proposed financial articles from multiple points of view. While this doesn’t always result in consensus, it does result in a broad and thorough examination. FinCom recommendations to voters reflect financial decisions in the best interests of Andover as a whole, not those of any special interest group.

In addition to diversity, Ms. Doherty has consistently appointed committee members who are able to work collaboratively. Heated discussions are frequent, but anger and antagonism are not. Reappointments of members for consecutive terms are frequent but are not guaranteed. Given the steep learning curve, forcing resignations to allow new talent bank applicants a seat on the committee would be very counterproductive.

Please join me in re-electing Ms. Doherty for Moderator on March 28.

Linn Anderson
Finance Committee Member, 2012-2021
Abbot Street

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