The Andover Select Board approved giving $20.1 million in property tax breaks over the next 20 years to a pharmaceutical company that said it will bring 600 new jobs to the vacant Phillips Healthcare campus on Minuteman Road.
“This is a really important proposal for the Town of Andover, especially where it’s a parcel that’s an anchor on River Road,” Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said. “This is really the culmination of almost a year’s worth of working…in coming with an agreement I was comfortable presenting to the board.”
The board held a first reading for a tax increment financing agreement, or TIF, with Cambridge-based Flagship Pioneering on Monday, and voted to recommend Annual Town Meeting approve the TIF at a joint session with the Andover Finance Committee on Wednesday.
In a TIF agreement, a local government offers tax breaks to a commercial property owner under the premise capital improvements will lead to a higher property value and, in turn, higher property tax revenue for the town.
More select board coverage on Andover News: Andover Begins Columbus Day Discussion
The town currently collects about $1.4 million in commercial property taxes from the property each year. Under the TIF agreement, Andover will give incremental property tax relief of 70 percent per year during the 20-year agreement. Flagship said it will invest $325 million to build out lab, office and manufacturing space over the next 10 years. Flagship would receive no more than $20.1 million in total tax relief over the life of the deal, or six percent of its planned investment.
Andover expects $55.6 million in taxes from the property over the 20-year term and a significant increase in those collections after the pact expires in 2044.
Phillips Healthcare sold its Andover Campus at 3000 Minuteman Road to Atlantic Management Corporation, a local real estate firm, for $36 million in 2019, after massive downsizing in 2018. Atlantic sold the property to a holding company in January 2022.
At its peak, more than 2,200 people worked there at the Andover Campus. Phillips had been in Andover for nearly 20 years, but started scaling back operations at the 140-acre property in January 2018, when it began moving 1,900 jobs out of Andover. Later that year, Phillips said another 280 jobs would go to a facility in Pennsylvania, while another 160 were moved to the company’s new North American headquarters in Cambridge.
Flanagan Explains Debt Limit’s Impact On New AHS
At the select board’s request, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan gave a presentation on the towns’ debt and its $510 million debt limit. Andover would need to get an exemption from state rules on municipal debt limits to build a new high school without the Massachusetts School Building Authority helping pick up the tab. Debt payments currently account for about 6.8 percent of Andover’s annual budget.
Nine More Warrant Articles Get Select Board Stamp Of Approval
With Annual Town Meeting beginning on May 1, the select board continued making recommendations on warrant articles. The board recommended town meeting approve nine warrant articles Monday, including changes to local zoning laws, $2.5 million to cap the Ledge Road Landfill and $300,000 for maintenance at the Water Treatment Plant.
The board also considered four private warrant articles brought by residents’ petitions. The select board recommended Town Meeting:
- disapprove an article that would have prohibited issuing of land use variances.
- disapprove randomizing the order articles are considered by Town Meeting.
- approve Andover WECAN’s proposal for the town to adopt a Climate Action Plan and take other measures to improve sustainability.
- approve an article for Hacineda Way residents that would allow the Town to take a portion of the street through eminent domain, making it easier to make road improvements.
You can register to vote up until April 21 to participate in Annual Town Meeting.
Remote Meeting Expiration Date Nears
Town Counsel Tom Urbelis told the select board the state’s rules allowing government bodies to meet remotely were set to expire on Friday. The state adopted remote meeting rules during the coronavirus pandemic and extended the expiration of the rules last year. Several Andover boards and commissions continue to hold all or some of their meeting online.
The state Senate has already hammered out a bill making remote meetings permanent. The House was expected to agree on extending the rules by Friday’s deadline.
Simko on minutes in packet. Urbelis on remote meetings
Monday’s meeting was at the Robb Center. In other business, the select board:
- was told by Town Clerk Austin Simko executive session minutes made public last week were included in Monday’s meeting packet.
- approved a 5 percent cost of living increase for retired town employees.
- began a discussion on renaming Columbus Day in the Town of Andover.
- approved signing the Annual Town Meeting warrant.
- took a bathroom break. Monday’s meeting was more than three hours long.
Video of March 27 Select Board Meeting From Andover TV
0:00:00 – Call to Order, Introductions, Pledge of Allegiance
0:01:11 – Communications, Announcements and Liaison Reports
0:06:40 – Updates from Select Board members
0:08:25 – Public comment
0:11:08 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day
0:41:45 – Retiree cost of living adjustment
0:52:50 – TIF Agreement
1:48:04 – Annual Town Meeting article review and warrant approval.
2:44:41: – Debt limit overview
3:03:19: – Consent agenda, approval of minutes
3:04:35: – Adjourn
Andover Select Board Meeting Packet for March 27, 2023