Annunziata, Fleming elected to Derry Select Board Pro-cannabis resolution passes; 1% options tax defeated

From left, Taylor Prouty, Tom Cavanagh, new members Jim Fleming and Vincent Annunziata and George Mora, with Moderator Doug Friant standing. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The 2020 Londonderry Town Meeting on Tuesday elected two new new members of the Select Board, rejected a 1 percent local options tax, passed a non-binding resolution supporting cannabis related business and left both constable positions vacant.

Vincent Annunziata was elected to a three-year term on the Select Board, replacing Jim Ameden, who had also served as chair. Ameden had said felt it was time move on in his life. Annunziata said he ran because he wanted to help the town.

Jim Fleming was elected to a two-year term on the Select Board, replacing Bob Forbes who had returned to the board three years ago “temporarily.” Fleming said that as a long-time resident with lots of experience, he wanted to give something back to Londonderry.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe says he and Treasurer Tina Labeau estimated $118,200 annually from a local options tax.

Although it was rejected, there was considerable discussion about a proposed 1 percent local option tax on sales, rooms, meals and alcohol. Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said he and Treasurer Tina Labeau estimated the tax would generate about $118,200 annually.

Forbes said the tax could generate even more money because deliveries of construction materials to Londonderry by contractors such as rk Miles would be taxed. Opposition was based on the supposition that the tax would deter visitors from doing business in the town and on reluctance by residents to pay the tax themselves. In the end there were 44 votes in favor and 75 opposed.

The merits and concerns over cannabis use came into the discussion of Article 18, a resolution that  stated that the residents of Londonderry “want the opportunity to develop legal cannabis related business, and to form a health, safe locally based marketplace within Londonderry for cannabis goods and services.”

State Rep. Kelly Pajala said state legislation to tax and regulate cannabis sales is in committee hashing out differences between the House and Senate versions. As executive director of the Collaborative, Maryann Morris asked residents to “think of the brain development of youth.” Pastor Laurie Krooss of the Second Congregational Church opposed the proposal, saying she was concerned about safety due to the impaired drivers.

Emmett Dunbar explains the purpose of the cannabis resolution.

The resolution’s co-author Emmett Dunbar said he wanted to “create an educational moment.” And Chad Stoddard said a cannabis products store in Northampton, Mass., is generating $16,000 a week in tax revenue. Article 18 passed 55 to 32 on a paper ballot.

First Constable Roger Sheehan said he was stepping down. None of the 120 voters assembled volunteered to take his place. Sheehan told Moderator Doug Friant that Second Constable Nick Doane was not interested in continuing either and had moved to Weston. That position was left open as well, although the Select Board can make the appointments should candidates come forward.

Those voted in from the floor are:
Kelly Pajala was re-elected as Town Clerk for a term of three years.
Tina Labeau was re-elected as Town Treasurer for three years.
Dwight Johnson was elected as a Lister for a three-year term.
Peter Pagnucco will continue as Town Grand Juror for a one-year term.
Alex Alexander will continue as Town Agent for a one-year term.
Katherine Mosenthal was elected to another three-year term as a Trustee of Public Funds.

Article 3 was passed on a voice vote to authorize the Select Board to appoint a collector of delinquent taxes. The board is expected to appoint Tina Labeau who said most of the money will stay in the town accounts.

Derry voters throughout Town Meeting also vote by Australian ballot.

As for the General Fund, the town will raise $2.3 million in taxes. O’Keefe said the $321,061 Highway Infrastructure Grant expense will go to build a box culvert on Derry Town Road and a $175,00 grant has been approved to reduce town expense and a $60,000 grant has been applied for but not approved.

As for capital expenditures, $120,000 will go to the Highway Equipment Reserve fund and $100,000 to the Building Reserve Fund. Ameden said that while the town has an equipment replacement plan, some unexpected equipment failures have thrown the schedule off.

O’Keefe said plans are under way for renovations to more fully use the Town Office Building. And Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman said the commission is working with Chris Cole for the historic renovation of the Old Town Hall. She said money for repairs and maintenance come from the Select Board but the commission is prioritizing the problems.

Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman outlines plans historic renovations to the old Town Hall.

All of the organizations seeking funds under Article 14 will receive their requested funds with one exception: Greater Northshire Access TV will receive $500 more than its request for $2,000.

Sheila Selden said the total amount of appropriations seemed high. But Labeau said the total allocation is even less than last year. One resident said the total is $41,802, not the $51,802 as published in the Annual Report. Labeau and Pajala did the calculation and said they agreed with the lower figure.

Other appropriations easily approved include $1,000 for the Londonderry Conservation Fund; $20,000 for the Champion Fire Company #5; and $10,000 for the Londonderry Library Association.

And, finally, a $5,000 request was approved to continue the town’s relationship with the Vermont State Police for overtime patrols. Ameden said the VSP still is a presence in town and Forbes added that the service was “sufficient.” And Marge Fish said the State Police is down 30 officers from their ideal staffing.

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