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Bedford Town Council discusses policy regarding unanticipated grants

BEDFORD — The Town Council has set a public hearing to discuss adopting a state statute about accepting unanticipated grants or gifts.

According to RSA 31:95, before accepting unanticipated money of $5,000 or more, a board of selectmen or commissioners shall hold a public hearing.

For grants less than $5,000, or gifts, the board should post notice of the funds in the agenda and include the notice in the minutes of the meeting in which that money is discussed.

At the council’s Sept. 25 meeting, Town Manager Jessie Levine recommended the board set a public hearing as a house-keeping matter so residents would know when the town is accepting grants from outside sources, and that councilors have not appropriated more money in the budget.

“It does increase the transparency in the process,” she said.

Under the statute, the legislative body can authorize the governing body to accept those funds and a public hearing is required for anything over $5,000, she said. “The Town Meeting in 1984 authorized what was then the board of selectmen to go through that process, but now the legislative body is the governing body, with the exception of the budget,” Levine said. “I’m asking the town council to authorize itself to accept and expend unanticipated grant funds or accept gifts, subject to the requirement of those laws.”The 1984 meeting set the public hearing requirement for any acceptance of funds, not just the $5,000 threshold, she said.

She said the move will prevent the town from committing itself to future expenses as a result of accepting a gift.

The public hearing will take place Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m., at 10 Meetinghouse Road.

“Part of the benefit of doing this, we may have a little more integrity in the budget and we won’t have to build up anticipated grants that we’re not sure we’ll get,” said Council Chairman Chris Bandazian.The council also set public hearings for Oct. 9 to discuss accepting three grants — an $8,500 grant from the state Homeland Exercise and Evaluation program for active shooting training for the Bedford Police Department; a $7,000 grant for mobile radios for the police department to improve radio communications; and a $12,900 grant from the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails for trail projects and the town’s purchase of Ash Bog.At the Sept. 25 meeting, Police Chief John Bryfonski described the active shooter training and the program that will bring in a consultant to access the department’s response and policies of such events.“Active shooter is the term used to signify a tactical event when someone is actively attacking another person with any kind of weapon, typically with a firearm, as we recently saw at the Navy yard in Washington, D.C., and even at a meeting very much like this in Pennsylvania. These types of events require some significant skill sets we need to provide to our Bedford officers,” said Bryfonski.

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