DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

August 23, 2012

Editorial: Hart’s changes exceed acting manager’s mandate

Acting Town Manager Bill Hart is doing a fine and competent job filling in while Londonderry conducts its search for a permanent town manager.

That said, we wonder if Hart is doing too much, making decisions that might best be left to a new, permanent executive.

Hart, Londonderry’s police chief, stepped up into the acting town manager role to fill in for former Town Manager David Caron, who had been on personal leave since June 18 because of a family medical issue. Caron, town manager since 2003, resigned on July 20.

While Caron was on leave, the town announced that there was a problem with the impact fees Londonderry had collected from developers to mitigate the effect of their projects on town infrastructure. Londonderry had collected some of the money in error and had not used other portions of the funds within six years as required by law.

It was an expensive mistake. Hart announced on July 2 that the town would refund more than $1.2 million in impact fees to developers and landowners.

The impact fees controversy played a role in Caron’s departure.

“During that time, it has become apparent to Mr. Caron and the council that the combination of the Caron family emergency and the town’s pressing business, including the impact fees situation ... has rendered it advisable for Mr. Caron and the town to sever their relationship,” Town Council Chairman John Farrell said in a prepared statement announcing Caron’s resignation.

Hart acted immediately and made the necessary changes in accounting and record-keeping to correct the impact fees problem.

Other changes instituted by Hart have perhaps been premature.

Hart has said he has no interest in pursuing the permanent town manager position.

“I’m a police chief and I am very happy and satisfied to serve the town in that context,” he told our reporter in July.

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