Goffstown selectmen to continue free plow for churches, Villa after review
Selectmen did not make a decision about continuing trash and recycling pickup at those locations.
In April, resident and Planning Board member Richard Meaney questioned the use of public funds to support private endeavors when he recommended that the board discontinue plowing and trash pick-up services to the churches.
In June, selectmen asked the churches and the Villa Augustina to provide them with a description of what services they offer to the town that would be a fair trade, or “quid pro quo” that would justify providing town services.
In response, parishes, including St. Lawrence Parish, St. Matthew's Church and the Goffstown Christian Fellowship church, provided letters to the board highlighting the services they provide to the town, including access to parking for events, welfare coordination and many services to community organizations.
Selectman Collis Adams said he was comfortable with the advice received from the town's legal counsel.
“I think we have enough justification,” he said. “He's our lawyer, we pay him to give us legal advice.”
Vice Chairman Scott Gross, who voted not to authorize any of the plowing, said while he supports the idea of plowing, he wasn't sure it was permitted by state statute.
“My heart wants to do it, but I just don't think it's legal,” he said.
According to figures provided by the Department of Public Works, the cost to plow the churches is approximately $1,188 per season, and $1,474 for the Villa Augustina.
The board was careful to separate community benefit from direct benefit to the municipality, noting that many of the churches provide meeting space to Girl Scout troops and other nonprofit organizations, but that isn't a requirement of the town.
Meaney, a Republican candidate for representative for Hillsborough County District 6, was pleased with the vote.
“The town had a policy that is buried in a DPW procedure,” he said. “If they decided it was appropriate and they developed a policy and they're signing their names to it, I think that's fabulous.”
Meaney said he felt the board did proper due diligence in assessing each entity individually, and was glad to have a transparent policy that had measurable data to support it.
“I'm really pleased that the selectmen didn't just let it slide,” he said. “I'm glad they took it seriously.”
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