County Attorney says she needs pay raise for prosecutor

LACONIA — Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen told Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning that her office is seeing an increase in heroin use in the county, as well as increasing problems with "spice", a synthetic compound which mimics the affects of marijuana.
''Drug abuse is a big issue for law enforcement,'' said Guldbrandsen, who said that officials had hoped that the recent conviction of a major oxycodone dealer in Belknap County Superior Court would cause a drop in drug abuse.
She said that spice, which is widely available in convenience stores, poses a problem as the change of one molecule can shift it from ta banned to a legal substance.
She said the county drug court program is working well and that there have been seven participants, several of whom are making progress in turning their lives around.
''It's a resource intense program,'' she said, pointing out that it involves the court, law enforcement and social service agencies.
Guldbrandsen said that her 2013 budget for medical services, including autopsies, is already over expended but that funds were available in other line items to cover the costs.
She also said that she would be asking for a pay increase for one of her department's prosecutors in the 2014 budget.
Asked by Commissioner Steven Nedeau (R-Meredith) if it was ''gift'' given that most county employees aren't receiving pay raises, she said that she needed to be able to offer competitive salaries in order to keep experienced employees with the her department.
''Experienced litigators can go to private firms and make over $100,000. It's important that we keep them whenever possible. The cost of having to train a new person far outweighs the cost of increasing an existing employee's salary,'' she said.