DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

April 4, 2013

Editorial: Town can’t afford parting gifts for officials

A dispute over the ownership of a former Derry town councilor’s iPad raises some troubling questions, not the least of which is this: Why is a community with the highest tax rate in the state using taxpayer funds to hand out expensive gifts to departing town officials?

Tradition, some might say. Well, tradition is a fine thing but times change and money is now tighter than it once might have been. It’s rather insulting to hard-pressed taxpayers to have their funds used so cavalierly.

Perhaps departing town councilors should be sent off with a grocery-store cake, a card and a hearty handshake. That is, after all, what most people who toil in the private sector receive these days as they head out the door.

The current dispute involves former councilor Brian Chirichiello, who stepped down this year after nine years on the Town Council.

The town has traditionally given a rocking chair valued at $356 as a good-bye gift to departing councilors. Chirichiello did not want the chair and asked Town Administrator John Anderson if he could keep his town-issued iPad instead. Chirichiello wrote the town a check for the difference in value between the iPad and the chair.

“Brian brought the ($51.99 difference) check in and we gave him the iPad,” Anderson told our reporter. “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”

Well, others did. The deal did not sit well with former councilor Janet Fairbanks. She called for Chirichiello to return the iPad, saying it’s town property and not something that should be awarded as a farewell gift.

Chirichiello thinks the exchange was fair.

“Just like every other councilor before me, all retired councilors received a gift of a rocking chair,” he said. “I have two at home so I thought I would ask that the money that would be used for my chair be used for the iPad.”

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