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A public service: Derry clerk's personal sacrifice


We often hear that public employees put the people first. Derry Town Clerk Denise Neale has done that in an impressive way.

For four years, the Derry Town Council has kept expenses down by forbidding Neale from creating new positions. As such restrictions sometimes do, this one led to complications not just for Neale but for the public. It could leave the clerk's office shorthanded during lunchtime, when people often stop by to do some town business. It also could keep Neale at the window rather than doing other tasks.

Neale proposed hiring a part-time clerk's office employee in the next fiscal year. To make that work financially, she cut her own salary by $5,000.

"The directive has been to have no new employees. I thought that if I gave up some of my income, I could get a part-time person. It's as simple as that," she said.

Public officials often say that new employees are essential. They often say that important work won't get done unless the bureaucracy is grown. Rarely does one put her money where her mouth is.

Public employees certainly have sacrificed before. For example, Manchester police officers, fire fighters and other unionized employees voted not long ago to cut costs and save jobs by taking compensation cuts. But it is even less common in our experience to see a manager like Neale volunteer for a pay cut so the people can be better served. That is a notable act of public service.

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