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Meredith board joins search for education funding lobbyist

October 22, 2020
MEREDITH — The town will join a number of other communities in the state in exploring the option of getting a lobbyist to help with legislative concerns about school funding.

Town Manager Phil Warren discussed the renewed concerns about education funding with the selectmen during Monday's workshop including the option to get a lobbyist discussed by a number of communities.

Warren said he gave the selectmen an update on where the state stood with school funding about a year and a half ago after he testified at a legislative hearing. Right now, a commission in session to study school funding and a case on this topic is going through the courts.

"I think that the urgency of this has changed and not in a good way," Warren said.

Funding could go back to an earlier system where all taxes collected, including state and local, would go to the local school districts. There is also a possible proposal where the state would go back to donor and receiver towns, which could have significant financial impacts on Meredith.

Warren said the town and many others received a request from Portsmouth's Assistant Attorney Jane Ferrini, who has been leading the effort against the return of donor towns, if the communities had any interest in getting a lobbyist to help with this effort. Warren said this idea had been presented in the past and there was no interest though that might change under the present circumstances.

"I would recommend that we at least participate or say that we'd be willing to discuss it and see what this lobbyist would do and how much it would cost us," Warren said.

Selectman Jeanie Forrester asked if they had anyone in particular in mind. Warren said they weren't considering any particulars, just feeling out of there was any interest. He said he wanted to see what the board's position would be on this matter before going forward.

Board members overall said they would be interested in exploring this further and learning more about the option.

Warren said he was also in communication with Mark Billings, a Meredith representative on the Inter-Lakes School Board, about this development.

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