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Jessie Levine
Town Manager
New London, NH

October 14, 2010

The Board of Selectmen received the first draft of the proposed 2011-2012 18-month budget on Monday night. This initial version of the budget prepared by the Department Heads and me came in with a 1.9% increase for 2011, not including capital items such as equipment replacement, building repairs, and the Sunapee Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade. The budget presentation and draft budget are available on the Town website at www.nl-nh.com

The Board of Selectmen will hold two more work sessions on the budget – on Monday, October 18 at 8:00 AM and Monday, November 1 at 6:00 PM – before turning its recommended budget over to the Budget Committee on Monday, November 15 at 7:00 PM. The Budget Committee’s meeting schedule is on the Town website at www.nl-nh.com/calendar. All meetings and work sessions are open to the public and input is welcome as we try to strike a balance between keeping taxes low and meeting community priorities.

Colby-Sawyer College President Tom Galligan was a guest of the Board of Selectmen and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Saturday morning. President Galligan opened by presenting the College’s latest figures: about 400 people employed on campus and 1,150 students as of this fall (this number is expected to drop by roughly 100 students by the spring). With the College’s tuition at $44,000, 90% of the students receive financial aid amounting to $20 million of the College’s annual budget (only a fraction of which is funded by the endowment). Like many small private colleges, and like the Town itself, Colby-Sawyer College must carefully manage its budget while still serving its mission and meeting the needs of its community. 

Community was the focus of the discussion on Saturday, as residents around Messer Pond attended the meeting for the opportunity to talk to President Galligan about the impact of student housing in their neighborhood. Vocal in their concern for the public perception of the College based on the behavior of a few alleged “bad apples” but also frustrated by the loss of peace and quiet as a result of parties last year at a house on Forest Acres Road, citizens expressed hope that the College could do more to control the activities of students living off campus.

President Galligan described the College’s code of conduct and its process for handling disorderly conduct on campus, and pointed out the current limitations of the College’s ability to adjudicate problems arising from student behavior off campus. Foremost, he said, are critical privacy issues concerning college disclosure of student activities. This is primarily a matter of federal law as students over 18 are protected by federal privacy rights. As long as they live in dormitories or other College-owned housing, students’ privacy rights do not apply and Campus Security has the authority to enter into student rooms at any time (though President Galligan emphasized that this authority is used only when student safety is at risk or when illegal activity, such as marijuana use, is suspected). Off campus, however, the College has no legal jurisdiction and those who do – the police – must adhere to legal standards such as probable cause and due process.

President Galligan offered to meet with neighborhoods that are struggling with the problem of raucous students, and while he very much sympathized with citizen complaints about loud parties and speeding drivers, he emphasized that the problem cannot be solved by the College alone but will require the community to work together. Because it is difficult for the College to track off-campus residences, President Galligan implored landlords to let the College know when they are renting to students. He and those present agreed that landlords – especially absentee landlords – need to take greater care in selecting renters and adding protections into their lease agreements.

President Galligan also implored residents to call the Police Department immediately when there is a serious problem such as loud parties or speeding vehicles. If people wait until the next day to complain to the Police or to the College, there is little that can be done. (It is also important to note that not every problem with noise, speeding, or misbehavior is caused by college students.) 

Municipalities around the country have attempted to solve off-campus rental problems by adopting ordinances relating to rental houses, and the Board of Selectmen invited input as to whether the Town should consider similar ordinances, such as one prohibiting loud parties after a certain hour or one holding landlords responsible, which recently passed in Durham. While the discussion of possible ordinances was not conclusive, they remain on the table for consideration and the Selectmen remain open to other ideas. (Incidentally, those living in New London should be reminded that the ban against overnight parking on all streets and roads goes into effect on November 1.)

All in all, those in the room agreed that the relationship between the College and the Town was a good one on a number of levels, yet poor student behavior runs the risk of reflecting negatively on the College. The dialogue between the Town, the College, and the community about student behavior will continue with mutual pledges to work together to find tools to address problems that arise.

 

Jessie Levine, Town Administrator
375 Main Street
New London, NH 03257

townadmin@nl-nh.com
Phone:
603-526-4821 extension 13
Fax: 603-526-9494

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