Published DateBELMONT – Town Moderator Tom Garfield confirmed yesterday that former selectman David Morse sent him a letter seeking information about how he could challenge Selectman's Chair Jon Pike's residency, based on a belief that his not really living in Belmont.
"There's not a single person in town that will attest that Jon Pike lives in Belmont," Morse said yesterday, adding he would likely make a more elaborate statement at the Belmont candidates night Monday at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria at Belmont High School.
Pike served for 12 years on the Planning Board and six years as selectman. He is running against George Condodemetraky for a third term as selectman.
Morse said that after exchanging letters with Pike and speaking to him on the telephone, he will likely not pursue a formal challenge but will instead take his objections to Pike's residency "to the public."
"The challenge is not in formal form," Morse said yesterday, adding that Pike would be likely to survive a formal challenge to his residency.
Garfield said that if Pike's residency is officially challenged he would refer the matter to the N.H. Attorney General.
Pike said yesterday that his residence in clearly stated as 40 Old State Road and that he has cable bills, insurance bills and other correspondence that proves he is a legal resident of the town.
"I don't sleep there every night but where I sleep is my own business," he said.
He also owns an automotive sales and service operation on Prescott Hill.
The latest exchange between Pike and Morse is what seems to be an escalating battle that started some years ago when Pike was initially denied continued town health care coverage following his divorce from Belmont employee and now Town Clerk Cynthia DeRoy.
Pike learned sometime in 2010 or 2011 that in previous years the town's insurer — the Local Government Center — allowed ex-spouses to remain insured on their former spouses policy unless one of them remarried — including the former husband of now Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin.
He challenged the fact that he was required to pay for his own policy under the federal COBRA law and not remain on DeRoy's two-person policy. Rather than go to court, the town settled with Pike last year and reimbursed him $11,100 for insurance premiums he had paid and allowed him to stay on the town's policy until he became Medicare-eligible last summer.
With both Pike and Morse recusing themselves from the vote on the settlement — Pike because the settlement involved him and Morse because his girlfriend Brenda Paquette was the benefits administrator in Belmont — Selectman Ron Cormier was left = to make the decision on the settlement. Cormier did so after consulting with two former selectmen — Ward Peterson and Ron Mitchell — and the town attorney.
Condodemetraky filed suit in Belknap County Superior Court challenging Cormier's solo decision but Judge James Barry dismissed the suit saying Condodemetraky didn't present a legal argument.
After the settlement was reported in the newspapers, the town officially adopted a policy that says all ex-spouses from November of 2011 forward must take their own town-sponsored policy under the provisions of COBRA. Pike and one other employee's ex-wife were grandfathered under the old policy because this was the first time the town established a formal policy on divorced spouses.
Two weeks ago the The Sun learned that Morse and Condodemetraky met with an investigator with the state Attorney General about what they said was an unlawful action allegedly used by Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin and her assistant Cary Legasse to get Beaudin's ex-husband covered by insurance in 1999.
The AG found no reason to believe the women had violated N.H. law and closed the investigation making it a public document.
The Sun learned last week that Paquette was no longer employed by Belmont. She was reprimanded in October of 2012 for giving out confidential information. In addition, Paquette's ex-husband James has filed suit against the town for denying him the same insurance benefit given the Beaudin.