Accept amendment and end residency requirement for Town Manager

To the Editor:

There are 900 employees of the town of Bedford. Only one is required to reside in the community – the town manager.

This requirement, in place for almost 30 years, originated before radical changes in telecommunications and predates the transformation of Route 101 from the "death trap" to an efficient highway. In short it is out dated.

As a community we have experienced an unacceptable turnover in this critical position. The pool of qualified candidates, small to begin with, dried up due to the residency qualification.

Discussions with managers and officials from other N.H. communities indicate that a residency requirement is a detrimental factor when considering a position.

Under no circumstance would they consider a position that deems residency a qualification for employment. They frustrated that some residents believe that residency makes them more sensitive to the level of expenditures and are less interested in shepherding development of the tax base.

The registered voters have the responsibility for approving the annual appropriations. The recommended Appropriation is the result of a lengthy transparent process, open to input from any resident. It is not dominated by the town manager.

The councilors recognize that we have to create an attractive situation to attract the best people. Driven often by electoral change, Managers tend to have short job tenures; between three to five years. Many Managers realize that their employment is similar to professional sports coaches – they stay in the profession, yet they are likely to be with new teams on a frequent basis. They accept this, but are not anxious to continually uproot their personal lives.

The Bedford Town Council believes that we have developed a simple solution to make our community an employer of choice. Please accept the Charter Amendment that eliminates residency as a qualification to becoming our Town Manager.

Bill Duschatko,

Councilor, Bedford NH Town Council