The Board of Selectmen took a stand against town funding for non-profits on Jan. 14, voting to not recommend any of the citizen petitions requesting money for the organizations.
For varying reasons, four groups will move on to Town Meeting without Selectmen backing.
Those petitions include $10,000 for the Salem Boys and Girls Club, $10,000 for The Upper Room, A Family Resource Center, $5,000 for Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County and $4,500 for Salem Youth Softball.
Selectman Stephen Campbell, who has been vocally against town funding for non-profits, echoed statements he made at a Budget Committee meeting last week when he said that town funding is for collective needs such as roads.
He said that while he supports the good work that charities do, he has never been in favor of supporting giving money to some and not others.
Agreeing with Campbell was Selectman Everett McBride Jr. He encouraged those submitting petitions that just because the board doesn't recommend an article doesn't mean voters won't approve it on the ballot.
"You have to get out there and convince people," he said to Michael Centor, who was presenting on behalf of the Salem Boys & Girls Club as the Executive Director for the organization.
Centor explained that the $10,000 request from his organization is to help out with what was a pretty substantial operational deficit last year.
The organization targets at-risk, in-need youth in the community. The petition this year is to fund a most recent program focusing on career readiness.
The Boys & Girls Club was the closest to getting a recommendation from Selectmen, receiving a 2-2-1 vote with Chairman Pat Hargreaves abstaining.
The Upper Room, A Family Resource Center was nixed by a 5-0 vote from the board.
Campbell argued that the group has half of a year's worth of money at the end of the fiscal year when looking at their liabilities versus their current assets.
"I think that the Salem taxpayers need the money more than they do," he said.
Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County, which saw Windham Selectmen approve a $5,000 request into the operating budget during a meeting last year, passed without recommendation by a 3-2 vote.
The group is geared toward the prevention of family homelessness, which according to statistics is a rising epidemic in Salem.
According to Director Melanie Nesheim, 85 of the current 158 families that the organization has assessed to be homeless in Rockingham County are from Salem. She added that the total doesn't include families with children that are under school-age.
"What we are offering is not 'please support our charity,'" she said. "We are offering a service that the town ordinarily must pay for.
Comparing costs, Nesheim said that the $5,000 will be paid by the town to put just one family up in a motel, and that family will not receive the benefits to lead them toward recovery that Family Promise provides.
Selectman Mike Lyons recommended the petition.
"I'm kind of intrigued by the presentation given here this evening and I'm willing to give an organization like this a chance," he said. "(Family) Promise has promise."
Salem Youth Softball will also have to battle through the 'not recommended' text when the organization makes a pitch to voters. Selectmen made the decision by a 4-0-1 margin.
According to President Tom Ramsdell, the $4,500 request is related to field work.
He said the work wouldn't get done without help from volunteers.
Speaking as a private citizen, Budget Committee member Paul Huard hammered the board at the end of the meeting for the non-profit decisions.
He argued that the town has had a rule that if a petition passed three times, it would be part of the budget.
"All of those organizations passed your rule and should have been in the budget," he said.
He said that all of the groups are now at a disadvantage because they have been lumped together.
McBride said that no Board of Selectmen ever binds another Board of Selectmen, while Selectman Jim Keller said that he was unaware of any rule and that it had nothing to do with the rationale behind his votes.