Derry’s tax rate has seen a recent increase and with many residents voicing their displeasure to that fact, the Town Council has taken notice.
The New Hampshire Department of Revenue officially set Derry’s tax rate at $24.26, which was $1.80 higher than the previous year, primarily due to a 9.1 increase to the combined local school rate.
Since the increase, Town Councilor Joshua Bourdon, amongst other councilors, has received numerous calls complaining about the strain that these increase place on them and their families. Because of this, Bourdon decided to address the situation during the council’s most recent meeting on Nov. 21.
During Bourdon’s address to those in attendance and watching via cable, he realized that many residents are already working with strained budgets and working two or even three jobs to make ends meet, as he could tell during the many calls he received.
“Some of these calls are from citizens expressing their outrage, but many of the calls…are expressing outright fear,” Bourdon noted.
Although Bourdon has received these types in the past, the most recent messages appeared to be pleading with the chair to do something to alleviate their issue. However, his experience also reminded him that there may be a silent majority who do not mind the current tax rate.
Since Bourdon is obligated to work with all residents, he suggested to Town Administrator David Caron that he work with the town’s legal team to create a non-binding question for the upcoming March ballot that could turn Derry into a city.
If the question were to be approved, it could give the town administration more control over fiscal matters, seemingly giving them the means to solve the tax issue.
Although some councilors were in agreement with the idea, others were also somewhat weary to turn Derry into a city. Councilor Neil Weatherbee felt that more information needs to be gathered on the matter before they create a ballot question, feeling that more options need to be seen first and that Derry may be able to find a solution without becoming a city.
Councilor Charles Foote was of a similar mindset, wanting the public to be realistic about their expectations for such a move.
“I don’t think it’s advisable that people assume that becoming a city is gonna change all of Derry’s problems”, Foote noted.
Councilor James Morgan seemed the most vocal against the possibility, also noting that turning Derry into a city will not solve all the problems on the table. Focusing more so on the town’s school district, he believes that fixed increases to their budget, along with cuts and better communication with Pinkerton Academy, should be their primary concern.
“The school district has to cut. They have to. They’re no choices anymore”, Morgan noted.