The hope of the future, or the people who helped make that hope possible?
A soul-searching Derry Town Council discussed its options at the April 22 budget meeting, after Councilor Michael Fairbanks suggested a straw poll on two issues that would impact the budget for 2015. The first is the Taylor Library in East Derry, which survived a funding challenge last year and in last week’s meeting. The historic library, budgeted for $187,000, has been criticized as duplicating services of the larger Derry Public Library. The second item is the proposed increase in the Veterans Tax Credit, which would add an estimated $98,000 to the amount taxpayers have to fund.
Fairbanks called for a straw poll of Councilors as to which issue they considered more important.
“If we couldn’t do both, what would you choose?” he asked.
For the Veterans Credit, “Can you look at the men and women who have been in combat and not give them a break?” he said.
For Taylor, which has a strong children’s program, “Can you look a parent in the eye and tell them their library won’t be there?”
Fairbanks listed four options: funding both, a total of $286,000; increasing the Veterans Tax Credit and reducing or eliminating Taylor; funding Taylor and not increasing the veterans credit; or increasing the veterans’ credit and transferring Taylor’s unique programs to the Derry Public Library.
Fairbanks said in his opinion, the Veterans Tax Credit increase was the more crucial.
“This is not a binding poll,” Chairman Mark Osborne told the Council. “If you don’t want to answer, that’s OK.”
“I have no answer,” Phyllis Katsakiores said.
Al Dimmock’s response was, “Go for the Veterans credit. The Taylor Library never put its life on the line.”
Joshua Bourdon said, “I am not going to choose between children and veterans. I will choose both.” Pointing to cuts the Council has already made, Bourdon said, “We can come close to achieving a 1 percent reduction without taking out the library or not recognizing the service of veterans.”
Osborne said, “In your personal life, if you overextend yourself, you can go to the bank or take money out of your 401K. Government doesn’t work like that. Government is about choices. We can’t afford to do both.”
Osborne said he would support the increase to the Veterans Credit if he had a full accounting of its cost.
“It is a tough decision,” David Fischer said. “We do care about people in the community. A lot of these are emotional issues. Should we be emotional? Why not? We can be emotional, but also carefully consider all the options.”
Tom Cardon observed, “The Veterans Credit increase is not in the budget. The Taylor Library is. We have two separate issues here. If we deprive children or veterans, it’s a lose-lose situation.” Cardon said he supported the Taylor Library and that the tax credit was a separate issue.