Attorney Questions Request for Social Security Numbers

A routine discussion on approval of salvage yards at the June 6 Londonderry Town Council meeting turned into a discussion on privacy issues.

Patricia Panciocco, an attorney representing S & S Metals, one of the three junkyards whose licenses were renewed, spoke to the Council about the requirement on the application to include her client’s Social Security number. Councilors agreed on the need for privacy and said they would address the issue.

The three junkyards are S&S, Map 15, Lot 66, 196 Rockingham Road; Londonderry Salvage Facility, Map 15, Lot 23, 211 Rockingham Road; and Murray’s Auto Recycling, Map 15, Lot 13, 55 Hall Road.

Building Inspector Richard Canuel wrote in a memo that according to RSA 236:121 II, licenses “shall be renewed annually upon payment of a fee, without a hearing.” Although it is the Council’s prerogative to allow public comment, Canuel wrote, it is unnecessary to hold a public hearing unless there is cause for denial of the application.

Canuel said that none of the facilities operated with any level of violation that would require denial of a license.

In his presentation, Canuel noted that both the town and state license regulations include a requirement for the applicant’s Social Security number. “I don’t know why,” he said.

Chairman John Farrell observed that these numbers have been provided on public documents for 10 years. But, he said, it is not the town’s practice to share them and he encouraged residents not to give out their numbers.

The board approved all three applications, 5-0.

Panciocco asked for time at the end of the meeting, and Farrell allowed her to come to the speakers’ desk. Farrell noted that Panciocco had not sent the Council any information, and Panciocco said she would have everything to the members before she was placed on the agenda.

Farrell agreed that the applications ask for people’s Social Security numbers, and have for 10 years. He said town attorneys were working on the issue but cautioned Panciocco, “If you send something here, it is part of the public record.”

Panciocco said, “There are trolls overseas who do this (acquire people’s information) for a living.”

Councilor Tom Dolan reassured her, “We are all in agreement about this. We need to take steps to stop it.”

And Farrell reminded residents, “This practice goes back to 1996. But in this day and age, if someone asks for your Social Security number, do not give it to them.”

In other business, the board heard from Finance Director Doug Smith on revisions to the guidelines for general assistance. Smith told the Council that the last time the guidelines were reviewed was in 2008, but the last time they were changed dated back to 2004. The changes include a 15 percent increase in shelter and living expenses.

All changes were proposed by the Greater Derry Community Health Services, the agency with which the town contracts to provide assistance services, Smith said.

Changes include the following:

• Studio apartment, current, without heat, $675, with heat, $775; proposed, without heat, $775, with heat, $895;

• One bedroom, without heat, $775, with heat, $875, proposed, without heat, $895, with heat, $1,095; and up to

• Four bedroom, current, without heat, $1,200, with heat; $1,500; proposed, without heat, $1,380, with heat, $1,625.

Monthly food allowances currently range from $100 for one person to $300 for eight people. Proposed food allowances would range from $160 for one person to $960 for six people, with an additional $40 per month for each additional household member. Burial allowance, currently $500, would be raised to $800, and telephone allowance from $30 to $40 per month.

The Council voted 5-0 to approve the changes.

In addition, the Council voted to approve the annual transfer of funds from the Cable Division Equipment Capital Reserve Fund to help with cable programming by the Londonderry School District. The Council voted 5-0 to appropriate $5,000 to the school district.

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