A discussion of Old Home Day Committee’s reorganization took place during the Monday, Oct. 28, Londonderry Town Council meeting. The Council addressed the Old Home Day Committee issue 11 days after the committee meeting (its first since the summer’s celebration), where longtime chairperson Kathy Wagner announced her resignation from the position. A report, published in this newspaper on Aug. 8, exposed several problems and raised questions regarding the ways the committee operated. The two main issues were the financial records and the meeting minutes. Both can be seen as part of the transparency that is requested from a town committee.
While working on our report, the town became aware (and shared with us) of a 2001 Resolution (#2001-05) that set several rules and guidelines that the current form of the committee failed to follow. The main one was that the committee should be led by a town employee. The original employee that indeed was leading the committee back than was the town’s Administrative Services Director (Troy Brown), but when his position ceased to exist, no one replaced him and the committee remained independent and not supervised the way the resolution meant it to be.
At the Town Council meeting, Assistant Town Manager Lisa Drabik said the a couple of months ago, Wagner approached Town Manager Kevin Smith to indicate that she and several other committee members are ready to step down after over 20 years in the committee, and transition it to the next phase, whatever that phase may be. When Wagner announced her resignation on Oct. 17, she said she would stay for another year to help with that transition.
Drabik mentioned the existing resolution that establishes the Old Home Day Committee as a volunteer-led committee, under the auspices of the town. She asked for the Town Council to consider a new resolution, which would specify the parameters of how Old Home Day Committee would function going forward and said that no resolution was drafted yet, since she wanted to first hear from the council members about the way they wish to go forward with this matter.
Drabik added that the staff recommendation is for a multiyear transition, where the town’s staff will be in charge of recruiting and training new volunteers, who will take over the committee with some town oversight through the Finance Department.
The Town Director of Finance and Administration, Justin Campo, answered Town Council Chair John Farrell’ question and said that the current balance for Old Home Day Committee stands at around $23,000. Campo said that Wagner did a good job in balancing between the incomes and expenditures every year and that the council funds $10,150 from Old Home Day celebration and also pay for the fireworks through the Fire Department (this year’s fireworks cost $21,000, since there was money left from cancelations in previous years).
After Farrell said that the council’s position is to probably put the committee under the hospice of the Town Manager and Assistant Town Manager, two residents approached the council and provided a different opinion. State Representative Betse0y McKinney, who said she was the treasurer for the Chamber of Commerce when they took over Old Home Day many years ago, and she believes it is time for something different for the committee, but that she does not know if putting a town employee as chairman would be a good idea. She explained her position by saying that this should be a volunteer committee and that there is no sense in a town employee, whose salary comes from taxpayers, spending his work time on the Old Home Day Committee.
Bob Ramsey, the town’s Traffic Safety Committee chair, said he was one of the last presidents of the Chamber of Commerce added that he also thinks the chairman should be a volunteer position.
In the end, the Town Council decided to have a second Public Hearing on the subject, during its next meeting, where a few options will be presented and another discussion will take place.