Election night proved a study in contrasts with Londonderry voters approving the status quo while Derry residents expressed their discontent with the town’s high taxes.
Just 2,024, or 10 percent, of the Derry’s 20,191 registered voters went to the polls but they were determined to reshape the Town Council as incumbents Joel Olbricht and David Milz both lost their bids for re-election.
Challenger Mark Osborne easily defeated Olbricht 1,241- 648 for the councilor-at-large seat. Tom Cardon edged out Milz 343-295 to win the District 2 race. Al Dimmock ran unopposed for the open District 4 councilor seat.
Osborne and Cardon both ran on a platform of limiting town spending and getting the tax rate, which is among the highest in the state, under some control.
In letters to the editor thanking their supporters (see this page), Cardon and Osborne both highlighted the tax issue.
“The No. 1 issue that almost everyone talked about was taxes” Cardon wrote. “They didn’t ask for better roads, newer infrastructure or more money for the town. They asked for a break on our escalating taxes. As a town councilor elect, I feel that I was elected to work on controlling our property tax. Everyone agrees that taxes are too high but nobody is doing anything about it except talking and spending more money. The time to address taxes is now.”
Osborne expressed a similar view.
“On Election Day you spoke loudly — and your voices were heard crystal clear,” he wrote. “You asked for responsive and fiscally responsible government.”
Voters approved the $81.9 million school budget, which had become a point of contention after voters at the school deliberative session restored $800,000 in funds that had been previously cut. Less than 1 percent of registered voters had attended the session that made the change.
Voters on Election Day were left with little choice but to approve the school budget as the alternative, the default budget, would have spent even more. They did, however, reject the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the AFSCME teachers assistants union, 1,153-801.
In Londonderry, there was no such discontent as voters happily approved nearly every measure placed before them.
Just 1,527 of the town’s 15,940 registered voters, or 9.5 percent, turned out and approved the town’s $27.5 million operating budget and the school district’s $66 million budget.
School security was clearly on the minds of voters as they approved spending $101,000 for an additional school resource officer and a $170,000 plan to upgrade the school district’s security systems.
Voters also approved $710,000 for an already established capital reserve fund to buy ambulances, fire trucks and fire equipment; $100,000 for Cable Access Center support; and a $2.6 million plan for sewer systems to be funded through user fees.
On the school side, a $4.5 million plan to pay for renovations and construction of buildings in the district, if and when they are needed, also passed, 1,147-876. Voters even gave their approval to a citizens petition asking voters to spend $8,500 to fund an official high school varsity ski team.
One town clearly determined to tighten its fiscal belt, the other readily loosening its purse strings. The contrast could not be more striking.