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May 03. 2013 12:40AM

Derry Farmers Market job pay is questioned

DERRY - The Derry Farmers Market will go on as scheduled this summer, surviving an attempt by one Town Council member to drastically reduce the budget for the market director position.

The funding for the position, currently held by Bev Ferrante, is included in the town executive department's administrative budget.

This year, $21,800 was included for the position in the budget, which is an hourly position with no benefits.

The farmers market is entering its fourth summer this year, and for the second year will be held in the Derry Municipal Center's parking lot. There is also a winter market that has been held at different locations over the past two years.

During a recent council budget review meeting, Councilor Mark Osborne made the motion to cut the director's position down to $5,000.

Osborne said the projected revenue brought in from the market for fiscal year 2014 will be about half of the salary for the position.

"I would like to see the town make a profit off (the market)," said Osborne. "It's my understanding that the position was not to exceed a $2,500 payment. It seems that $20,000 is significantly more than what it was intended to be if that's true. But also, when we're paying someone $20,000 to run a market that is only bringing in $10,000 for the town, for me, that just doesn't make good economic sense."

Councilor Tom Cardon said he wasn't in favor of cutting the position down to $5,000, but said he believed the position is one that should be revenue neutral.

Councilor Brad Benson said cutting the position to $5,000 would essentially end the market.

"If you cut this line item to $5,000, I will lay off the farmers market coordinator and there will be no farmers market," said Town Administrator John Anderson.

Osborne asked whether the position could be handled either on a volunteer basis or earning a $5,000 stipend.

"In communities where you have a vibrant downtown, that can work," said Anderson. "In our downtown, it doesn't work without someone coordinating it."

Anderson said the summer farmers markets were initially intended to increase downtown foot traffic and that it has had success doing that.

He said there has been talk about reevaluating the continuation of the winter farmers markets. If there was no winter market, he said there would be a corresponding decrease in revenues as well as the number of hours needed to coordinate the program.

The motion to cut the market director position to $5,000 failed, 5-2, with councilor Al Dimmock joining Osborne in the vote to reduce the salary.

aswift@newstote.com

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