By Chris Paul
During the public comment section of the Monday night, March 6 meeting of the Town Council, Chairman, John Farrell, spoke on what he explained was an inaccuracy of an ad that ran in last week’s issue of the Londonderry Times.
The ad was on page 9 of the March 2 issue urging voters to “Vote No on Article 2.”
The ad stated, “The Town Treasurer is currently an elected position. By voting NO, this position will remain elected by the people and responsible to answer to the people. If you do not vote NO, this position will become appointed by the Town Manager and ratified by the Town Council effectively making the Town Treasurer beholden to those who appointed them. I was a former elected Town Treasurer and as such have experienced pressure by town officials to leave my signature stamp and/or signed blank checks for the town to use. As an elected Town Treasurer, needless to say, this did not happen.”
The ad was submitted and paid for by Richard Bielinski, a former Town Treasurer.
Farrell pointed out, “There was an ad locally about the Town Treasurer, part of the process that they said that was in there is that the Town Manager will select the Town Treasurer if it’s approved by the voters.” He added, “That’s not true.”
Farrell went on to explain, “Just like the Tax Collector is appointed by the Town Council, the Town Treasurer, if approved, will only be appointed by the Town Council.”
The following day, when Bielinski was asked about the Chairman’s issue with his ad, he said, “This is just semantics. I can see what he’s (Farrell) saying, but the wording in the article clearly states that the Town Treasurer would be chosen through the recommendation of the Town Manager.”
The article states, “Shall the municipality approve the charter amendment reprinted and summarized below: (words removed are [bracketed] and new words are in bold)
Section 5.7. – Treasurer: There shall be a Town Treasurer (hereinafter called “Treasurer”) who shall have all the powers and duties granted by this Charter and State Law. The Treasurer shall be [elected on an at-large basis to a term of three (3) years at the Town Election] appointed by the Town Council upon recommendation of the Town Manager for a three (3)-year term. Vacancies in the office of Treasurer shall be filled pursuant to state law.
If the amendment is adopted, the Town Treasurer shall be appointed by the Town Council for a three (3)-year term instead of being elected for a three (3)-year term. If the amendment is adopted, the elected Treasurer shall remain in office until the 2024 annual town election.”
Bielinski pointed out that the portion in bold was what he was referring to, “It clearly states that the Town Manager will be recommending the candidate.”
Bielinski also noted that because of the statement Farrell made, he went back to watch the previous meetings on the article.
He said, “During the Nov. 21, Town Council meeting, while in the Public Hearing on the article, Councilor Chad Franz asked Farrell if there would be a second Public Hearing on the article if the wording is approved by the state, Farrell responded, ‘Yes.'”
Bielinski added, “To my knowledge, that second Public Hearing never took place and regardless of what the state may say, Farrell told the citizens that there would be a second public hearing, but they hurried it, and skipped the the second public hearing and it did not happen.”
Reaching out to Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, on the issue, he responded, “A public hearing was noticed and occurred on Nov. 21. On that occasion, the proposed amendment was sent to the Secretary of State, Commissioner of the Department of Revenue, and Attorney General. During the week of Dec. 12, I received notice from the Attorney General’s Office that the State does not object to the proposed amendment.
Our receipt of this notification triggered RSA 49-B:5(b), which reads: “Within 7 days after receiving approval from the secretary of state, the attorney general, and the commissioner of the department revenue administration…, the [Town Council] may order the proposed amendment to be placed on a ballot at the next regular municipal election.”
Under this statute, there is no requirement for a second public hearing, and none occurred. However, the charter amendment was included in the Dec. 19 agenda, as was the text of the proposed amendment and the Attorney General’s notice of no objection.”
Residents can vote on this article on Tuesday, March 14.