During the Monday night Londonderry Town Council meeting, Assistant Town Manager Lisa Drabik gave an update on one of the main goals that the council wishes to pursue – Leadership Londonderry.
According to the website for Leadership Londonderry, the purpose of the program is to educate participants about the operations, fiscal management, and issues of local government. This program will provide an-depth orientation to all Town government functions and the ability to interact with current community leaders to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of how the Town government is run.
Drabik met with Pollyann Winslow, who was one of the main facilitators of the program years prior to gather more information.
The Leadership Londonderry program most recently ran in 2009-2010.
The classes began in the fall of one year and graduation was in the spring (May) of the following year. Leadership Londonderry is a seven-eight month program that meets about once a month and features different topics and speakers according to Drabik.
The meetings are recommended to be held in the evenings so that dinner may be provided. The goal for Leadership Londonderry this time around is to have 12-20 participants and have the first course launched at the end of the year by September or October.
Drabik then posed the question to the council if they would be interested in providing funding for the program, because the budget has already been set for FY 19.
Some estimated costs to run the program are $2,000 for food, a few hundred dollars for supplies (binders, certificates, etc.), and a graduation dinner of around $2,500. These costs were calculated by the maximum number of participants (20). The estimated total for the program would be around $4,800-$5,000 depending on food costs and other needs.
In the most recent years, the class charged a participation fee for the public to enroll in this program. The previous year of 2009-10, the fee was $100 per person to participate in the class. This was due to the fact that it was covering the cost of the food for the meetings. In the past, it was found that the $100 participation fee did discourage some people from applying.
Councilor Tom Dolan expressed the fact that he did not wish the participation fee to be a barrier to keep people from applying to the program.
His recommendation was to waive any and all fees for the public.
Town Manager Kevin Smith also felt that the $100 was a high price, but believes that people need to have “a little skin in the game,” because it holds them to a commitment if they choose to sign up for it.
Smith’s recommendation was to charge around $35-$50 per person.
Vice-Chairman Joe Green agreed with the Town Manager that $100 seems like a steep price, but you need to have some skin in the game.
Councilor Jim Butler sided with Dolan that there should not be a fee charged to participants. “Our taxes are what they are, and if anyone is truly interested in being successful and coming on to any of these boards, I don’t think it’s a waste of time and I don’t think the taxpayer should have to pay for that.” Butler said.
Councilor Ted Combes agreed with Smith and Green to have the fee around $25-$35. The council was able to come to a compromise and suggest a $25 administrative fee for participants.
The next step for the program is to begin advertising to capture the public’s attention.