Derry residents will go to the polls Tuesday, Oct. 13, to vote on eight “referendum petitions.”
All districts will vote at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School for this election. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The issue, which has divided the town for months, centers around eight “referendum petitions” presented by a coalition of residents concerned about the budget votes made in a 4-3 vote by Town Councilors May 19. The eight petitions ask the Council to overturn its votes on cutting police personnel, cutting police overtime, cutting fire personnel, cutting fire overtime, cutting public works personnel, cutting public works overtime, eliminating the position of Human Resources Director and closing a fire station.
The ballot will have eight questions:
• Article 1. Repealing the May 19 action of the Town Council to reduce the Town Administrator’s proposed budget for full-time fire positions by $384,424.70, “thereby 1) raising and appropriating the additional sum of $384.424.70 for four full-time positions in the Fire Department in the Town of Derry’s FY2016 budget, and (2) correspondingly increasing the FY2016 budget approved by the Town Council as impacted by the repeal of this specific item by $384,424.70.
• Article 2. Repealing the May 19 action of the Town Council to reduce the Town Administrator’s proposed budget for overtime in the Fire Department by $436,680 by repealing the Town Council vote to “approve overtime in the Fire Department in the amount of $339,012 instead of the amount of $775,692 proposed by the Town Administrator and the Council’s corresponding action to reduce the Fire Department budget by $436,680.” A yes vote would raise and appropriate the additional sum of $436,680 for Fire overtime in the FY2016 budget and thus increase that budget by $436,680.
• In much the same fashion, Article 3 asks to repeal the Council vote on the reduction of Police overtime by $150,000 and thus add that sum back in; Article 4, a yes vote would repeal Council action to reduce the budget for overtime in the Department of Public Works by $60,600 and add that sum back in; Article 5, a yes vote would repeal Council action to reduce the proposed budget by four full-time Police Department positions by the corrected sum of $300,000 and thus add that sum back in; Article 6, a yes vote would repeal Council action to reduce the budget by two Public Works full-time positions by $150,000 and thus add that sum back in; Article 7, a yes vote would repeal Council action to eliminate the full-time position of Director of Human Resources/Assistant Town Administrator and reduce the proposed Executive Department budget by $150,000 and thus add that sum back; and Article 8 would repeal Council action to close one of Derry’s four fire stations. A yes vote would repeal the Council’s May 19 vote to “close one of Derry’s four stations and remov(e) operation staff; with the building only to be utilized for training, storage and office space.” A yes vote would return Derry to four operational fire stations. No dollar figure was attached to the original closure or to the reopening.
While the cuts saved more than a million dollars and reduced the tax rate by $1.21, some residents have expressed concern that essential services were affected. A group of residents crafted the “referendum petitions,” which required the Town Council to reverse its vote on each petition item or to hold a Special Election to allow the voters their say.
In a July 28 meeting a majority of the Council declined to reverse its vote and declined to offer a Special Election, after which three residents, Brian Chirichiello, Neil Wetherbee and Jenna Paradise, took the town to court. Judge David Anderson ruled in Superior Court on Sept. 14 that the petitioners were in the right, and the town appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court. But the Council also voted unanimously Sept. 23 to set a date for the election in the event that the appeal failed The Supreme Court denied the appeal Monday (see related story page 1).
Absentee ballots are available in the Municipal Center.
The checklist is closed but residents may register to vote on the day of the election.
The election occurs after the Nutfield News goes to press for its Oct. 15 edition. Election results will be posted at www.nutpub.net on Wednesday, Oct. 14, with a complete story in the Oct. 22 edition.