Joint Select Board Meeting of the Towns of Harrisville and Marlborough
Friday, November 4, 2022
The Select Boards of Marlborough and Harrisville met on Friday, November 4, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. at the Marlborough Town Offices, 236 Main Street, Marlborough, NH.
Town of Marlborough: Select Board Members Gina Paight, Chair, Jane Pitt and Earl Nelson; Marlborough Police Chief Zach Byam; Marlborough Town Administrator Ellen Smith.
Town of Harrisville: Select Board Members Andrea Hodson, Chair, Kathy Scott, and Pegg Monahan; Select Board Administrative Assistant and Recording Secretary Mary Ann Noyer
The boards and town officials continued discussion of the potential for combined police operations. Each board, with input from Chief Byam and Ellen Smith, discussed potential benefits of sharing operations, staff, facilities and budgets, and as well as potential challenges of buy-in from respective town residents and taxpayers.
Issues addressed included: Provisions of a draft contract; police hiring and coverage of both towns, salary and benefits adjustments to reflect increased coverage area, and to attract/retain officers; facilities, equipment and maintenance, including IT, record systems and computers; and whether the Harrisville Police Department building would remain open for a transition period.
Both sides agreed that the collaborative dynamic between the two town boards and between the Marlborough board and police department made for an ideal time to consider joint police operations. All also agreed that police availability and response are the most important elements, as well as the establishment and preservation of a cooperative dynamic in a joint commission.
The boards reviewed potential budget scenarios and potential costs and savings for each town.
Marlborough officials expressed concern that Marlborough would not see the savings Harrisville would see to justify a merger to the Marlborough community at this time, but they were willing to consider revisiting different budget scenarios. The boards focused on how hiring an additional officer, and increasing salaries and benefits, on top of rising insurance costs, would impact potential savings of cost-sharing.
The Harrisville Board Chair offered to put together alternative budget scenarios for review and to again review the budgets prepared by Ellen Smith.
The next joint meeting of the boards was scheduled for November 22 at 9:30 a.m. At that time, the boards will further consider administrative expenses and responses to the budgets presented. They also will discuss expectations of each town and ideas for a structure and culture of shared operations.
The meeting adjourned at 11:40 am.