Derry office seekers explain their views at forum
DERRY - Increasing property taxes, deciding whether Derry should become a city, and improving relationships with the school district were the major topics addressed during a recent forum for candidates running for town council.
There are five council candidates for the three council positions on the ballot March 12.
In District 4, current Zoning Board of Adjustment member Al Dimmock is running unopposed. In District 2, incumbent David Milz is facing a challenge from Tom Cardon, while at-large council incumbent Joel Olbricht is facing a challenge from Mark Osborne.
Osborne, a local defense attorney, said the biggest issue facing the town is rising property taxes. While he said he does not support the town changing to a city form of government as a possible solution to keeping school spending under control, he said Derry does need new leadership.
"Many elderly and retired residents wonder how much longer than can afford a home before the property taxes continue to go up," said Osborne. He said he also knows many younger people in the area who can afford a down payment and mortgage for a new home, but don't know how they will pay for rising property taxes.
Osborne said the council must also show leadership when it comes to dealing with the school budget.
"We have to be very clear that if the schools are not responsive to the needs of the community, then as a town council, I don't think it is out of control to say we may have to review our commitment to all the schools," he said.
Both current town councilors also said they do not support a change in the town's form of government, but said they support continuing on a more collaborative path when working with the local school district and Pinkerton Academy.
"I think the one thing the council can do through its leadership is to meet with Pinkerton Academy and meet with the school district and find out how we can collaborate on expenses and help bring down the expenses we all have," said Olbricht. "I don't think the right thing is to become a city where the council has jurisdiction over the budget."
Milz said he feels the recent talk about Derry becoming a city is a knee-jerk reaction to what happened at the school district deliberative session earlier this year, where a small group of voters were able to raise the school budget by $800,000.
"I believe the desire is not to be a city, but that the desire is to get the school budget under control," said Milz.
Cardon said he has not supported Derry changing from a town to a city in the past, but said he could change his mind.
"At this point in time, I'm open to the possibility, knowing it would be a long, drawn-out process and that it won't be easy," said Cardon.
Dimmock said it is up to the people of Derry to decide if they want the town to be a city.
"I believe that if the people want it, the people should vote on it," said Dimmock. "My one vote does not make that much difference."