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City holds off on VFW donation for poker machine license fees



MANCHESTER — The aldermen on Tuesday tabled a proposal to contribute $6,050 to a West Side VFW post to offset license fees it paid for video poker machines the post commander has since had removed.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 8214 Cmmdr. Richard Haugh had originally sought a refund of the license fees. Haugh has said the fees were paid by the previous commander despite the fact that he made his intention known to remove the machines, which he viewed as an unsavory source of revenue for the post. Meanwhile, the post is in debt, Haugh has said, and is struggling to stay afloat.

At a meeting of the Administration Committee last month, it was determined that refunding the fees would violate city ordinance. The motion was made to have the city’s finance director determine a funding source for a $6,050 contribution to the post — equaling the cost of the permits for the “amusement devices.”

Finance Director Bill Sanders identified two possible funding sources — from the budget for legislative services or Christmas decorations — but he also advised against the contribution.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long proposed using the funds from the legislative fund, since he and other aldermen are also legislators and the funds haven’t been necessary to hire a representative in Concord.

However, Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy said he was concerned about the precedent the donation would set.“I really felt sorry for him, I applaud what he’s trying do,” Roy said, referring to Haugh. “But I don’t think we should be using public funds to help a private club out of their woes.”The aldermen were prepared to vote on the contribution, until Sanders noted that the post wouldn’t necessarily have to apply it to back taxes, as Haugh has said.

Alderman-At-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur proposed that Haugh sign an affidavit indicating how the money would be used.

He proposed tabling the proposal, which was approved 8-5.

tsiefer@unionleader.com




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