DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

January 16, 2014

Editorial: Derry deserves better

The Derry Town Council hasn’t exactly started off the new year with a bang. Unfortunately, it appears 2014 is, thus far, a continuation of an unpleasant and unproductive 2013.

It’s tough to find a town of comparable population, tax rate and budget that’s as dysfunctional as Derry has become.

The Town Council, for all its hopes and dreams of a rosier future, continues to be an embarrassment and a largely ineffective leadership group.

The morass in which town leaders appear to be wallowing only grows deeper.

Without an active town administrator since July, residents might hope a new leader would be the council’s top priority. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

It seems the councilors first need to set goals and make peace before they are prepared to decide how to conduct a search for John Anderson’s replacement.

To that end, they met in late November and came up with a short list of three main objectives, each with two or three goals. The list ranges from scheduled more downtown meetings to review town services and prior reports. The councilors also want to hold regular meetings with the School Board.

The last goal is admirable, if unrealistic. Budget discussions every year are reduced to councilors correctly blaming the School Board for Derry’s ever-escalating tax rate. Perhaps the Town Council ought to figure out how to function as a working board before it establishes a meeting schedule with another board with which it has an unpleasant history.

There’s little this council can point to with pride since the makeup of the board changed significantly in March 2013. The former majority soon became the unhappy and not-so-silent minority.

Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks sits in the middle of the mess. Sadly, he has not risen to the occasion himself, and appears uncomfortable and inadequate in his role.

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