SALISBURY — With relatively little discussion, last night Town Meeting approved a temporary moratorium on the siting of medical marijuana dispensaries in town, a new three-quarter of a cent local excise tax on all restaurant meals and borrowing almost $198,000 to initiate the first phase of designing for a new police station.
But it tabled an effort to eliminate the state regulation requiring Salisbury police officers to live in Massachusetts.
Although Salisbury Chief Thomas Fowler said he and the majority of his officers supported removing the civil service regulation that forces Salisbury police officers to live in Massachusetts, after Salisbury Sgt. Chuck Scione rose to speak against eliminating the law, Town Meeting decided it needed more time to decide the issue.
Town Manager Neil Harrington told Town Meeting he brought the prospect of filing a Home Rule Petition with the Legislature to get rid of the residency rule for police to be fair. Firefighters and other town employees can live where they like, he said, but because the town’s police department functions under the jurisdiction of civil service, police have to live in Massachusetts.
Harrington said he sees the in-state residency for police as unfair and a “double standard.” What difference does it make, Harrington said, if an officer lives one mile away in Seabrook or a mile away in Amesbury?
But, Scione said, for the past 25 years he’s lived in Salisbury because of the civil service regulation, even though he would have enjoyed the option of living in southern New Hampshire. Civil service’s in-state residency requirement is there to make police officers “stake holders” in their state and county, Scione said.
Although it’s common knowledge that a number of his fellow Salisbury officers live in New Hampshire, Scione told Town Meeting he’s opposed to rescinding the measure. He added in-state residency is a “hot topic” with civil service in Boston, and he believes that removing the stipulation would draw opposition.