To the editor:
The Derry 2014 budget sessions are over. Derry’s taxpayers were able to see how their elected officials treat their tax dollars. The new town councilors accomplished much this year, but there is still much more for us to do for the Derry taxpayers.
Before we do, however, I would respectfully suggest that as a community we harken back to our history. We must revisit our legacy as a town of creative thinkers, independent entrepreneurs and vigorous volunteers. We must remember that local government does not and cannot grow long-lasting businesses.
Town councils do not fill empty store fronts, nor do they guarantee the rise and fall of any economy simply by spending taxpayer money on advisers and other projects that tend to benefit the few over the many.
Similarly, a local farmers market can flourish in Derry, just as they have all over New Hampshire. Just look to Salem, Portsmouth, Nashua and other communities. Their farmers markets thrive and are rife with volunteer directors and staff and eager shoppers. The stream of commerce, the free marketplace and active volunteerism can and will determine the success of a farmers market far more than will a tax-funded subsidy.
Such was the philosophy that guided me and the new councilors over the last few weeks. We realize that the best way to grow our economy is to make sure Derry is an affordable place to live. That means keeping taxes low, which means not being afraid to make tough budgetary decisions. It means having the courage to say no to some of Derry’s (and indeed New Hampshire’s) finest public servants.
The first step toward fiscal responsibility has been taken, but we are nowhere near the finish line. When the new councilors ran for Town Council, we stood on the sidewalk holding signs and went door-to-door. Everyone we spoke to asked for the same thing: Fight to lower our taxes! They only asked that we do everything we could to make Derry a more affordable place to live.
Accordingly, the new councilors poured through every line item of the budget. We proposed several cuts and adjustments. We always asked ourselves what was in the best interest of the taxpayer. Sometimes our efforts were met with anger, disgruntlement, impatience, scowls and an occasional gnashing of teeth. Nevertheless, we carried on just as the voters in March asked us to do.
We did not accomplish everything that we had hoped. But, given that the property tax (on the town side – not including the schools, of course) will not increase a single cent, I am confident that the new councilors are off to a good start, with many thanks to the people who supported our efforts. As Derry’s families sit around their kitchen tables figuring out how to responsibly balance their budgets, we will insist that the council do the same. I hope taxpayers will take notice that their new councilors kept their campaign promises. In return, we shall remain eternally grateful to Derry for giving us the opportunity to do so.
Mark A. Osborne