Belmont rep wants Belknap Convention to investigate 'conduct of county affairs'

LACONIA — After roiling the Belknap County Complex for weeks with a bitter and messy budget process, the Belknap County Convention may soon find itself contemplating pursuing an investigation into "the conduct of county affairs."
As the convention prepared to adjourn last night Representative Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont) called members attention to a statute (RSA 24:17) authoring the convention to appoint a committee "to investigate conditions pertaining to the conduct of county affairs by any county officer or person appointed or employed by such officer." The law specifies that the committee, convened by a majority vote, consist of no more than five members, not more than three of any one of the parties, and empowers it to summon witnesses, take sworn testimony and "do other necessary acts to conduct such an investigation."
Sylvia, a freshman lawmaker and Free Stater who moved to New Hampshire from Rhode Island almost three years ago, said "I don't have anything in particular in my sights," but referred to "employees who have things to say, but don't have the proper outlet now."
Sylvia said that the convention had a duty "to oversee the operation of the county," drawing a rebuke from Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), who explained "out duty is to appropriate funds, not oversee. The commissioners oversee county operations. We are the legislative body and the commission is the executive body."
Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, asked members to familiarize themselves with the statute and "think about it," adding that it would be placed on the agenda of the next meeting.