Town Council Passes 2017 Budget on Unanimous Vote

With little fanfare, the Derry Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a 2017 budget of $44,139,521, a 1-cent drop on the town portion of the tax rate.

The total budget is $44,139,521. Department budgets are as follows:

• Emergency Management, $69,361;

• Executive, $1,348,093;

• Finance, $4,536,893;

• Fire, $11,923,277;

• Libraries, $1,494,860;

• Planning, $266,367;

• Police, $9,687,024;

• Public Works, $9,057,383; and

• Town Clerk/Elections, $202,569.

In addition, the budget includes the town’s three “enterprise funds” of Cable, Wastewater and Water:

• Cable, $419,143;

• Wastewater, $2,220,563; and

• Water, $2,591,672.

It also includes the TIF (Tax Increment Finance) districts at $322,316.

Last year’s approved budget was $42,473,228.

The department heads put forth a combined budget request of $44,161,309 and Acting Town Administrator Stephen Daly submitted a budget of $43,892,783.

Savings were found in several departments due to the reshuffling of positions and restructuring of departments. In addition, the Council took $365,000 from the Unexpended Funds Balance and $100,000 from the Cable Franchise Fees account. The latter was a controversial move but the Council still approved it (see related story page 2).

The new budget will allow Police Chief Ed Garone to hire one new police officer and Fire Chief Michael Gagnon to hire two new firefighters. Police and fire overtime came under residents’ examination, but were part of the budget that passed (see related story page 7).

In addition, this budget allows for $100,000 for the creation of an Economic Development department. The original budget called for $75,000 for a part-time Economic Development director, but the Council changed the position to full time and made it contracted and project-based.

The Council’s tools for crafting this budget included a town-wide survey concluded in December 2015, in which a majority of residents said they wanted to gradually lower taxes, but also to keep the level of services the same.

The new budget goes into effect July 1.

The budget passed 7-0, unlike the controversial 2016 budget, in which the Council split 4-3 over several issues, including closing a fire station and eliminating the Human Resources Director position. Three residents, including Council Chairman Brian Chirichiello, who was not then a Councilor, took the town to court to hold a special election, and the special election was granted and held Oct. 13. Eight budget votes of the previous Council were overturned.

In addition, the Council approved the Capital Improvement Plan or CIP for 2017, which will be $3,476,155.

In other business, Chirichiello said the Council is reopening its search for a Town Administrator after meeting with three finalists and determining none was right for Derry.