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December 25. 2012 10:31PM

Derry considers charter changes for 3rd time this year

DERRY - The Town Council has scheduled a public hearing on Thursday for six proposed changes to the town charter.

After the public hearing, the council will decide whether it wants to move forward with placing any or all of the proposed charter changes on the March 12 town election ballot.

It will be the third time since the beginning of this year that voters will be asked to consider changes to the charter. During this year's town and state primary elections, voters approved 12 changes to the charter.

As with the past 12, the six that were recommended to be moved forward by town staff for the public hearing are among the 48 recommendations made by the town's charter commission.

"I think we've done the heavy lifting on the charter at this point," said Town Administrator John Anderson. "We're starting to get to the middle of the pack, if you will."

Town Council Chairman Brad Benson said the majority of proposed charter changes this time around concern the language in the charter.

"We will hold the public hearing on everything before us, then after the public hearing, we will vote on what we want to put on the ballot," said Benson.

The proposed changes recommended by the staff include doing away with the $1 filing fee for town candidates for public office, giving the Town Council the authority to determine if the town administrator has to live within the town, changing how the town's tax cap is calculated, changing language concerning meetings to consider the capital improvement plan, changing the time allowed to complete the town's annual report, and doing away with language in the charter that referred to the East Derry Fire District.

"The last one is something the town did years ago when it eliminated the East Derry Fire District and merged it with the Derry Fire Department," said Anderson. "This finally cleans up the language to take out the reference to the East Derry Fire District from the charter."

Anderson also said the council might want to leave the debate over the tax cap issue to a future date.

The proposed change would have the town use the Northeast region CPI rather than the national CPI to calculate the town's tax cap.

"We've had some discussion on this one before, and we're not wedded to the recommendation on this one," said Anderson. "You might decide to keep this as part of the tax cap conversation at a future date and not put it on the ballot."

The public hearing on the charter changes is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Derry Municipal Center.

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


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