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After Debate, BudCom Keeps Frydryck as Chair

Some members concerned Frydryck has not been fair to all board requests.

The Salem Municipal Budget Committee began their review of the 2013 town budget Wednesday with an at times heated discussion centering around whether or not Russ Frydryck should continue as chairman.

The board eventually voted 6-1-2 to keep Frydryck in the role. The one member who voted in favor of changing the chairman was Board of Selectmen representative Stephen Campbell.

Frydryck said there had previously been "private criticism" of his handling of the committee by Campbell, who himself is a former longtime committee member.

Frydryck read directly from an e-mail from Campbell in which the selectman wrote: "You are not a chairman, you obviously treat members and requests differently based on whether you agree with the request."

Frydryck said that as the committee gets ready to prepare the town budget, he wouldn't want to serve as chairman if members didn't believe he was fair.

"If this committee would like to have me step down and replace me, I will leave that open to the floor right now," he said.

At the heart of this discussion was a recent request by new committee member Dane Hoover, who asked for some information from the Salem School District that was deemed to be not monetary in nature and therefore was not provided.

Some of that information involved enrollment history. The recent school enrollment study was not provided to the committee at their last meeting.

Campbell was upset that Frydryck did not press School Board representative Pam Berry to make that information available.

"In the old days, every request was treated as if it came from the entire board," Campbell said. "It seems now that if the majority doesn't want the information, there's no big deal about getting it and the minority is not treated with the respect when they feel they need information."

Campbell called the majority of the committee "more liberal" now and felt the majority may not be aware they are doing it when they don't back up a minority request.

Hoover, for his part, said he didn't want to see Frydryck leave the chairman's seat, but expressed his disappointment that Frydryck didn't back up his request.

"I would like you to at least recognize the fact that plenty of the stuff I requested...was not only very reasonable but easy enough to obtain," Hoover said. "I was provided zero and I didn't feel like you backed me up on that."

Berry said the enrollment study was put on the district's website the very next morning after the committee's last meeting for all to see.

"I don't know how much quicker you can get it," Berry said. "The staff doesn't work overnight to put it on the website."

Berry also said she felt like Hoover had "patronized" her at a previous meeting by saying if it was too much work he'd find it himself.

"Now you're signing a different song tonight," Berry said. "Either you want it or you don't want it."

"You're emotionally taking in something here that there isn't," Hoover said to Berry. "I asked for simple information. I didn't ask to be attacked."

Hoover said he was able to find some of the information on his own.

"I'll back anybody up that needs specific questions that need to be answered," committee secretary Barry Pietrantonio said. "But if the information is available and you can find it, that's part of the board's job."

In addition, committee vice chairman Paul Huard expressed that Campbell had been too critical of the committee in some of his public statements, including instances where Campbell called this committee "the least inquisitive I've ever seen," that the committee took the summer off and that they "like to spend money."

"Personally, when I look at all the work I put into this board, I find it extremely insulting," Huard said. "It's all on tape...I'm very disappointed. Russ has bent over backwards to let people talk at length on the same subject over and over again. I find this ridiculous."

Huard said the committee met in June and August and said he was "tired" of the way Campbell was criticizing them.

The committee's 6-1-2 vote to keep Frydryck as chairman included Campbell voting in the minority with Frydryck and Patrick McDougall abstaining.

After that, the committee conducted their review of a number of town departments Wednesday, including the Town Clerk, Tax Collector, Assessing, Information Technology, Human Resources and Community Development among others.

Thursday night the committee went over the Police and Fire budgets as well as capital projects.

They will continue their review next Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Riley Reid October 12, 2012 at 01:51 PM
It was horrible how this meeting started.
bruno October 12, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Campbell needs to be taken off this committee. He is there to represent the Selectmen not micro manage the board.
Jake O'Donnell October 12, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I have had to reject a few comments that have come in because they got too personal. Please stick to the subject of the article and what happened during the meeting and keep personal attacks out of the discussion. Thanks.
salem mom October 12, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I agree with Mr. Campbell on this one. I do not think the board has asked enough questions. It is scary to me that the statistics that Mr. Hoover asked Ms. Berry to provide were not readily available. Although I thank Mr. Hoover for not pressing the issue and spending additional legal fees to resolve. Ms. Berry consulted with the town attorney to get out of the request. And the ask was not the enrolment report that recently became available, the request was some time ago and not related to that report. The board's purpose is to review/question every town expenditure. They should be questioning everything, not just agreeing that the town needs to open our pocketbooks. I think Mr. Bryant is still on their August vacation as I've not heard him open his mouth in the recent meetings except to vote to adjourn. Who wants to bet that they send all budgets and warrant articles to us with their blessing?
Riley Reid October 12, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I had a conversation with someone today who had a pretty good argument for NOT having a budget committee. After watching the meeting the other night i'm in favor of just leaving it up to the BOS and the voters.
Soujourner Truth October 12, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Who would want to serve on a public board and be subjected to this kind of harassment from Mr. Campbell? I'm glad Mr. Frydryck stood up to a bully so his committee could get on with business . I hope Mr. Campbell will stop making every public meeting an echo chamber for an overinflated ego.
Riley Reid October 12, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I'm starting to think former board chairwoman Beth Roth knew what she was doing when she didn't appoint Mr Campbell to be the BOS Rep to the Budd Comm.
bruno October 13, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Roth 2013 she will control Stephen Campbell.
Anthony Arnold October 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM
What Keith Hickey said pertaining to the town not having adequate backing up of data was false. I was asked to implement a new system and it was designed with an in-house IT staff in mind, not a remote vendor. All the towns’ data was backed up daily, weekly and monthly, then stored in fireproof safes designed for data at different locations. If Neoscope is big enough to say that Symantec and DELL make inferior products and don’t know what they are doing then good luck to Salem’s future IT expenses. The system that was in place had a bare metal disaster recovery plan built into the software. If Neoscope wants to send the towns data to the “Cloud” for faster restoring abilities let them prove that they can rebuild a server and then download the restore files that could be hundreds of megabytes or terabytes faster. One terabyte transferred over a 100 MB connection to the cloud would take 22 hrs 13 min and 20 seconds going full throttle with nothing else using the line. Salem has maybe a 10 MB connection total for the whole town. You do the math. All Neoscope wants to do is make it so they can manage everything remotely and get paid for the job without having to go on site. Last year 140K and they left out the 100K from the startup year. Continued.....
Anthony Arnold October 15, 2012 at 02:00 AM
269K for backup and a contract increases then another 90K for a server room. Anyone put out an RFP? 129K sounds pretty expensive to backup data and a raise. What’s next billing the town more for the in-house tech for being there when someone needs help. Salem will learn the hard way and pay later for Hickeys failure to listen to people that know what they are talking about. Unfortunately so will the tax payers of Salem. You can build a pretty good building for 90K. All they need is a 20 X 10 room. The cost will be that there is no employees to run the wires and move the equipment it will all be outsourced to Neoscope for profit where an in-house staff could do it while working. Someone asked if this was it for costs and Keith Hickey said that was it. When they need more it will be too late because Salem will be committed. You are all being fooled because now all the PC supplies are in individual budgets compared to all falling under the IT Departments budget in the past. So if you think the town is saving any money you are being misled your only seeing the cost of outsourcing and not all the costs, like all the money being paid for GIS work that was included in the IT departments budget. With all the cuts Hickey introduced last year and all his “Great Bargaining Skills” with the CBA’s why is Salem still cutting everything and raising taxes? Hickey won’t be happy until Salem is under investigation just like the LGC, where Keith Hickey is the Vice Chair on the BOD.
Riley Reid October 15, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I bet Roth and Covey are glad they can sit at home on Monday nights and not be subject to all the personal attacks. Eventually voters in Salem will see Mr Campbell is not bringing any solutions to the table and he will be voted out.
salem mom October 15, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I don't always agree with Mr. Campbell's tactics and syntax, but his points are dead on. I want my BOS and Budget committee to question everything. Why is the School Board not looking at the statistics Mr. Hoover asked for year over year? It should have been information that was readily available to support their financial requests. Should we backtrack on the IT issues that Mr. Arnold brings up? Why is Mr. Arnold the only one that is questioning these line items?
Riley Reid October 16, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I'm sure Mr Arnold will be a critical witness when that happens

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