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Huot files bill to give county commissioners more budget management autonomy

LACONIA — Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) this week became the third member of the Belknap County Convention to file legislation intended to clarify the responsibilities of the commission and convention in preparing and managing the county budget.

Differences between the three Belknap County Commissioners and the county administration on the one hand and the Republican majority of the county convention have roiled county government throughout the year. The majority of the convention has insisted that the convention can rewrite the budget proposed by the commission by adding, deleting, raising or lowering particular line item appropriations. And, in the course of managing the budget, the commission may only reallocate funds from one line to another with the approval of the Executive Committee of the convention.

With equal resolve, the commissioners claim that the authority of the convention is limited to itemizing appropriations in 13 broad categories Within these categories, the commission contends it can distribute funds among different lines without the approval of the convention as long as expenditures do not exceed the total appropriations of the particular categories.

Huot said yesterday that his legislation would apply to all of the 10 counties in the state, but would not override provisions of existing statutes that apply specifically to Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties. The bill will prescribe a uniform format for county budgets, which the commissions present to the conventions in December, consisting of accounts for departments and functions. County commissions would be authorized to transfer funds between line items within the accounts without the approval of the convention, but transfers or more than $1,000 between accounts would require the approval of the Executive Committee of the convention.

In addition, Huot's bill would require that at least one representative from the minority party in the convention be seated on the Executive Committee.

Throughout the controversy within the Belknap County Convention Huot has noted that that the existing law bearing on county budgeting is open to interpretation. In fact, both the commission and the convention received legal opinions upholding their respective positions and the convention was stopped short of filing suit against the commission by a single vote. Huot conceded that because the different counties operate differently within the bounds of the existing law, his bid to introduce a measure of uniformity would encounter resistance. "I'm poking a stick right in the middle of a hornet's nest," he remarked.

Earlier both Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) who chairs the Belknap County Convention, and Rep. Tilton (R-Laconia), chairman of its executive committee, also filed bills that would enshrine their view of the convention's authority in an statute applying only to Belknap County.

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 October 2013 03:08

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Laconia mayor candidates debate on Channel 9 on Sunday

MANCHESTER — WMUR television (Channel 9) will feature a half-hour-long debate between the two men running for mayor of Laconia on its Close Up program on Sunday morning. The program was taped on Friday afternoon for broadcast at 10 a.m.

Appearing on the program, one of several the station plans to broadcast featuring mayor candidates in New Hampshire cities, will be Kaileif Mitchell and Ed Engler. Mitchell is a teaching assistant at the Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield and election moderator in Ward 5. Engler is editor and president of the The Daily Sun.

Close Up is hosted by WMUR anchor Josh McElveen. He and station political director James Pindell asked the questions during the debate, which were not provided to the candidates in advance.

The Laconia election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.


Last Updated on Saturday, 05 October 2013 03:01

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Tardif accepts spot on Ward 5 ballot opposite Hamel

LACONIA — Former mayor Tom Tardif yesterday confirmed that he will be a candidate for the City Council seat in Ward 5 in the general election on November 5. . On Thursday, a recount of the ballots cast in the primary election last month confirmed that Tardif received three-write-in votes, enough to entitle him to have his name printed on the general election ballot because it was the second highest total.

Incumbent City Councilor Bob Hamel, who is seeking re-election to a fifth term, was unopposed in the primary and received 39 of the 47 votes cast.

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 October 2013 02:58

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Gilford business owner indicted by grand jury, charged with meth making

GILFORD — A Country Club Road business owner was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury yesterday for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine, and possession of marijuana.

Steven Simoneau, 56, of 194 County Club Road was arrested and charged on May 30 after the Belknap County Sheriff's Department along with the the N.H. Drug Enforcement Administration's Clandestine Lab Team during a raid on his property.

Affidavits from the time of his arrest and supporting the state's request for cash bail said Simoneau's arrest stemmed from an earlier methamphetamine bust on Academy Street in Laconia during the previous week but the details of the connection are in search warrant affidavits that were sealed by Judge Jim Carroll during his original appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

According to the affidavit supporting the state's request for cash bail, Simoneau was allegedly trying to burn evidence of a meth-making operation in a fire pit on his property behind the house he shared with his elderly mother.

Yesterday's indictments indicated that police recovered lithium and pseudo-ephedrine on Simoneau's property.

The property is the site of the Simoneau and Sons Concrete business.

In the week before the raid at Simoneau's house, a sheriff's deputy who was watching an apartment at 21 Academy St. saw a man, later identified as Joel Paquette, riding his bicycle away from the apartment about an hour after he had gotten there.

The deputy approached Paquette who agreed to be interviewed. Paquette said Deputy E. Justin Blanchette could examine the water bottle he had on his bicycle and Blanchette allegedly found oxycodone pills and Valium pills.

After he arrested Paquette, Blanchette went to return his bicycle to the apartment (at Paquette's request) and Donald Doucet,40, opened the door and told Blanchette that Paquette's girlfriend was inside. Blanchette entered the living room and saw materials commonly used in methamphetamine production lying in plain sight on the couch. He also saw a mirror and straw on the floor.

Both Doucet and Christy Jarrell, 26, were arrested.

All three are in the Belknap County House of Corrections awaiting trial for various counts of possession of narcotics and meth-making.

After his arrest, Simoneau was initially held on $5,000 cash bail. After his appearance in court on a Friday, Carroll ordered him held on $2,000 cash-only bail but allowed him to go home for the weekend to care for his elderly mother.

Simoneau posted the $2,000 cash on Monday.

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 October 2013 02:55

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