The following are seeking the Derry Town Council’s three open three-year terms March 8:
At-Large – Mark Flattes, David Milz, Jim Morgan and Leonard Perkins.
District 2 – Tom Cardon and Charles Foote.
District 4 – Brian Chirichiello, Albert Dimmock, and Randall Kelley.
Each was asked to comment about the budget process.
Marc Flattes: 44, has lived in Derry for 10 years. He is a bulk customer service representative for the Pepsi-Cola Company. Prior civic involvement includes the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee, of which he serves as Vice-Chair; the Economic Development Committee, also Vice-Chair; alternate to the Planning Board; town representative to Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) for the recent Solar Up campaign; and membership on the SNHPC Brownfields committee.
“Over 20 years in private sector management, I have a few basic beliefs about the way government should work. Above all, government should be transparent. Government should always work on lowering the costs of service through using methods of responsible spending without adversely impacting the community. Government leaders serve at the pleasure of its citizens.”
David Milz: 66, has lived in Derry 28 years. He is retired from Continental Airlines, where he was General Manager in Boston. Prior civic involvement includes the former East Derry Fire Commission, of which he was the last chairman and helped facilitate its merger with the Derry Fire Department; five years on the Derry Housing and Redevelopment Commission; six years as treasurer of the East Derry Village Improvement Society; three years as a Town Councilor; and current Republican state representative for Derry.
In dealing with budgets, Milz would like to see the line-by-line system reintroduced. “It’s a proven way and involves the public,” he said, rather than “an arbitrary cut of a certain number.”
Milz reminds residents that “The town doesn’t set the tax rate, the DRA (New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration) does that. What we have control over is the budget.”
The “old way” was intensive, Milz said, with eight or nine budget meetings, including one Saturday meeting. But it was worth it, he said. “We had to justify everything, line by line. That’s the responsibility of the Town Council, to know where every penny is spent.”
Jim Morgan: 50 by Election Day, has lived in Derry since 2007. He owns an electronics manufacturing business in Manchester. A former Bedford resident, he was involved in that town’s Parks and Recreation Commission, was a Trustee of Trust Funds, and chaired the Bedford High School Coalition from 2000 to 2004. He serves on Derry’s Property Maintenance Committee.
Morgan said he’d apply business principles to the budget. “You can’t run a company or a town on tax cuts alone,” he said. “You have to grow your ‘top line.’”
Every budget has fat that could be cut, Morgan said, adding, “You have to find the right ‘fat.’ The cuts last year weren’t the ‘right fat.’”
For Morgan the key is expanding the tax base. “We need the right kind of development – industrial, medical, distribution – to hang our hat on,” he said.
Morgan would also like to see more long-term budgeting and thinks the Council should look not only at its current budget, but at years two and three.
“It has to be planned,” he said. “Many boards place too much emphasis on the current budget, on ‘let’s save money and cut taxes.’” This leads to a “one and done” kind of thinking, he said, using the example of this past year’s use of $600,000 from the Unexpended Fund Balance, which now has to be replaced.
Leonard Perkins: 50, has lived in town for 10 years. He is retired from 32 years in the Air Force and is a project manager with Boston Children’s Hospital. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, St. Mark’s Lodge and the board of directors for Evergreen Place in Manchester.
Perkins supports a return to the line-by-line process.
“In the past there have been line items that were not used, but we paid for them,” he said.
Perkins said he would look at what’s best for Derry, “the right size budget, the right size departments.” He has already done his own research, compiling data on 11 area towns that are similar in size and demographics, he said.
Tom Cardon: 63, is a retired high school teacher and has lived in Derry for 26 years. His prior civic involvement includes the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee, which he chaired; the 2007 Charter Commission; founder and chair of the Economic Development Committee; founder and Town Council liaison to the Property Maintenance Committee; Council liaison to both the Taylor Library and the Conservation Commission; and first-term Republican state representative. He is currently chair of the Town Council.
Cardon’s ideas for dealing with the town budget and high tax rate include taking a portion of the current $1.5 million surplus and using it to offset taxes to mitigate part of the effect of dipping into the Unexpended Fund Balance this past budget cycle, with $600,000 to be made up in the current cycle.
Cardon referred to a recent survey in which 79 percent of respondents wanted to see taxes cut, but 72 percent also wanted to see services maintained. “It is a real balancing act,” Cardon said.
He is an advocate of reducing taxes and said one goal he’s working on is to look at union contracts, with the purpose of “scaling back” earned time and asking employees to contribute a greater share of their health care.
Charles Foote: 45, has lived in town 20 years. An Army veteran, he is employed in the medical field and as a dog trainer. He is a past president of the East Derry Parent Teacher Association and has held offices in the Elks Lodge. He is an assistant Scoutmaster, a youth sports coach and a volunteer with the Salvation Army.
To deal with budgets, Foote would emphasize transparency and make himself available to all residents. “I personally do not have all the answers,” he said. “It should be a group effort between the Council, the staff and residents of the town.”
Foote was not happy with last May’s budget cuts, saying, “It is not productive or safe to make such arbitrary cuts.” He acknowledges there is not a lot of “fat” in the budget and said he would search for cuts through the line-by-line method, with residents having input.
“We need to make difficult decisions, and I am ready to make those decisions,” Foote said.
Brian Chirichiello: 53, is a Realtor and 31-year resident of Derry. His prior civic involvement includes eight years on the Planning Board, including one as chair; delegate to the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission; and three terms as Town Councilor. He is in his sixth year as a Republican state representative.
Chirichiello said if elected, he plans to deal with the budget and tax issues in “a transparent manner.” He wants to return to the former system, in which the Council goes through a budget line by line with department heads. “There is a give-and-take to that method,” he said. He’d also like to see at least two sessions for public input on the budget.
Chirichiello warned that cuts alone won’t bring down the tax rate. “We need to bring up the property values,” he said. “We need to redevelop some areas and bring in some commercial and industrial properties.” The proposed Exit 4A will be “huge” in this area, Chirichiello said.
He wants to see the town and school district work more closely on budget issues, and he’d like to see a full-time Economic Development Director.
“The next four years will be critical for this town, and that’s why I’m running,” he said.
Albert Dimmock Sr.: 78, has lived in town for more than 30 years. He is a retired heavy equipment owner and business owner. His prior civic involvement includes the Highway Safety Committee, Zoning Board of Adjustment and Planning Board. He is a current Town Councilor.
Dimmock said Derry has one of the highest tax rates in the state, and it is “everyone’s duty” to try to keep it under control. The current Council “tried our best” to do that with cuts to the current budget, but “it didn’t work,” Dimmock said. “We are still trying.”
He declined to give specific areas for budget cuts because he hasn’t seen the working budget.
Randall Kelley: 48, has lived in Derry for four years. He is a former auto dealer and mechanic and owns Dirty Deeds, a property maintenance company. He is a member of the Go Green Committee.
Kelley said the tax rate can be lowered. He listed volunteerism as a method of bringing it down, noting that in his opinion, “Exit 4A won’t come into play for a while.” But that doesn’t mean Derry can’t spruce up the downtown and attract business in other ways, Kelley said.
Kelley would like to see a flat tax rate for a few years so the town can have more surplus at the end of the year. He would address issues such as the police and fire unions that haven’t had new contracts, along with unfunded retirement accounts.