A second session of petition-signing to ask the Town Council to reconsider eight budget votes gained more than three times the number of signatures for a referendum petition to be submitted to the Council.
Community member Neil Wetherbee said the final count after a session Wednesday, June 10, was between 795 and 822 signatures. The session at Upper Village Hall followed a Sunday morning signature drive on June 7 at the same East Derry location.
Wetherbee said the variance in the signatures was due to some residents not signing all the petitions. There were eight different petitions dealing with fire personnel cuts, fire overtime, police personnel cuts, police overtime, Department of Public Works (DPW) personnel cuts, DPW overtime, the elimination of the Human Resources Director position and the closing of a fire station, all of which were approved by a majority of the Council in the May 19 budget vote.
The petition drive needed 20 percent of the registered voters who voted in the last election, or 242 signees. Wetherbee wrote in an e-mail that the 795 to 822 signatures represented more than 75 percent of the people voting this past March.
Wetherbee wrote, “This is an effort that only began in earnest last Wednesday (June 3) when we announced the initial petition drive on Sunday. Following the success we had on Sunday and in an effort to accommodate the large number of people we heard from that wanted to sign but were unable to attend Sunday’s drive, we announced this second drive later that same day. Both of these drives were organized with only a few days’ notice through word of mouth and social media, and to get the kind of response we’ve had I think speaks volumes.”
Wetherbee continued, “We think it is time to end this back-and-forth once and for all with a vote of the people.”
Wetherbee said he would be delivering the petitions to Town Clerk Denise Neale for further action.
The Town Council next meets Tuesday, June 16, after the Nutfield News goes to press.