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June 19. 2012 10:55PM

Derry charter changes moved to ballot

DERRY — The Town Council is putting forward six proposed town charter amendments for the Sept. 11 state primary ballot, including one that would change the treasurer from an elected to an appointed position.

The charter amendment votes are an ongoing effort by the council to clarify and clean up the language in the town charter. In March, voters approved four charter changes.

A public hearing was held last week on 11 proposed charter amendments. The five that did not make the cut for the Sept. 11 ballot could very well be put before voters during next March’s town election.

Changing the treasurer from an elected to an appointed position was the only one that will appear on the September ballot that did not garner the unanimous support of the council, with Michael Fairbanks and Brian Chirichiello saying they do not support the proposed change.

“I got a little heartburn on this one,” said Fairbanks. “I understand the technicality of the position, but we are taking a right away from the taxpayer.”

At the public hearing, treasurer Rita Correia said she supported the change, noting that the council approval of a candidate recommended by the town administrator would ensure there is someone in the position with the proper skills and training.

“When I listen to Rita and what she does and the amount of money she handles, I think we really have to have a qualified candidate to do this who really understands the logistics of moving the money around,” said council Chairman Brad Benson. “It could be detrimental if the treasurer does not work well with the finance department. The taxpayers could pay dearly.”

Chirichiello noted that there are state statutes that largely determine how municipal treasurers can handle finances. He said he also had faith in Derry voters to select someone suitable for the position.

“I think the elected treasurer statute was created for much smaller forms of government,” said Councilor Neil Wetherbee. “It would scare me if someone came in from off the street with no financial background.”

The other proposed charter amendments on the ballot would change the composition of the Planning Board and the board of election officers, the town’s requirements for posting ordinance changes in the newspaper, and how appropriations are transferred between town departments.

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Adam Swift may be reached at aswift@newstote.com.


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