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May 23, 2013

Derry farmers market director said all is a go

Budget cut means future is uncertain

DERRY — This summer’s farmers market is a go, but its future beyond that is uncertain.

The market took a big budget hit last week after town councilors voted, 4-3, to cut town support of the market and its manager, Beverly Ferrante, from $21,800 to $5,000 for fiscal year 2014.

Councilors made the market decision right before approving a $37 million town operating budget.

The good news? Taxpayers won’t see a tax increase on the town side. The projected 2013 town tax rate is $10.39 per $1,000 of valuation, the same as the current rate.

The bad news, some say, is what to do about the farmers market.

Ferrante remains positive that this year will be a good one.

“The market is on,” Ferrante said. “This season will be OK.”

The market’s opening day is scheduled for June 19 at its Manning Street location near the town municipal center. There are about two dozen vendors already on board.

Ferrante has been the market manager since it opened in 2010. She also is a state representative.

She said running the market is a lot of work.

“I do my due diligence,” she said. “I make sure it runs appropriately.”

But paying $21,800 Ferrante to run the market was too much, some councilors said, especially with only about $11,700 in market revenue posted last year.

Where the money goes is a question. Ferrante said she only earned $12,650 from the town in 2011 and $16,252 in 2012, according to her tax documents.

“And that is for eight months of markets,” she said.

Another $1,000 was paid for assistant manager tasks setting up and breaking down the market each week. Money also went for advertising.

But Ferrante is given $20,800 for the year to spend as she sees fit, including paying herself. An additional $1,000 is budgeted for an assistant.

Councilor Mark Osborne made the motion to slash the market’s budget. He said he wanted the market to continue, but not at that price.

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