Derry councilors look to lower taxes, spark economic development
DERRY — Bringing down Derry’s high tax rate and sparking economic development were some of the key goals town councilors said they would like to achieve during a recent workshop.
The council met to review some past goals and discuss setting future ones during the Tuesday night workshop.
The council had previously set a top goal of making government more efficient to bring down the town tax rate.
“It’s the opinion of many that you aren’t going to have economic development until the tax rate goes down,” Council Chairman Mark Osborne said.
In May, councilors lopped approximately $400,000 from the $36.5 million 2015 fiscal year town budget and cut the tax rate by 15 cents, dropping it to $10.34.
Councilors agreed in the workshop to continue with goal of reducing the tax rate and discussed ways to further improve efficiency. They agreed that budget workshops with the various town departments should be held earlier in the year and more information and input is needed sooner in the process.
After Osborne asked if there was any information councilors would want him to request from staff, Councilor David Fischer said he would like to know the current tax rates of surrounding towns, such as Londonderry, and towns in the state that are comparable in size to Derry.
Fischer also wanted to know, excluding police and fire vehicles, how many vehicles are used in town, what employees use them and what the practices and procedures are relating to use of the vehicles.
As for improving economic development, the town should focus on addressing vacant downtown properties and make the area more business friendly, councilors said.
“The number one thing that we really need to do down there is clean the place up — that’s it,” Councilor Thomas Cardon said. “I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s not that costly.”
There are some abandoned buildings with absentee owners that need immediate attention, councilors said.
Cardon said a subcommittee he chairs is making progress on formulating a property maintenance ordinance, previously referred to as a blight ordinance. “I’ve been really impressed,” Cardon said of the work of some subcommittee members on the ordinance, such as Code Enforcement Director Bob Mackey and Fire Chief George Klauber.
The subcommittee will meet later this month and should have the ordinance ready to be submitted to the council by next month.