LONDONDERRY — With nearly 30 of the town’s employees related to other town employees, the Londonderry Town Council is considering an update to the town’s municipal code to avoid nepotism and conflicts of interest in the future.
Discussions on the new town ordinance began in late July, where Councilor Tom Freda first introduced the idea.
After sharing a draft of the ordinance with the town’s attorneys and Town Manager Kevin Smith, the draft returned before the board Monday night.
Freda said the idea is to “bring the town in line with the federal and state government, which already has such policies.”
“Londonderry doesn’t have a policy on nepotism right now,” Freda said Monday. “But the town should have the right to determine any contracts or promotions are awarded on merit, not on family connections.”
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance, which is available for viewing on the town website, is Sept. 8.
Freda noted that in a neighboring town, a relative was appointed to a staff position “despite the fact that he had less experience than some of the other candidates.”
“This could happen here in Londonderry,” Freda told Smith. “I think this is concerning, especially when some of the (related) individuals working on town are being supervised by a family member or a spouse.”
“I think we need to take an approach where we’re making sure family members aren’t the ones deciding whether their family members should get a raise or a promotion,” Freda added.
Council Chairman Tom Dolan stressed that the town “doesn’t want to prohibit relatives of existing employees or other town officials from serving the community,” but at the same time “needs to avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest.”
Under the new policy, elected or appointed town officials, including the town manager, would be prohibited from participating in the appointment or hiring process in cases where the candidate is an immediate family member.
Additionally, job applicants would be required to disclose immediate family relationships with any town employees, elected officials or elected board or commission members.
Town councilors and the town manager would also be prohibited from taking part in any town-centered business negotiations or contract votes involving immediate family members.
The policy’s definition of immediate family includes spouses, civil union partners, children, parents, stepparents, stepchildren, siblings, half-siblings, immediate in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren or persons living in the same household as the prospective employee.