LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention has formed a grant subcommittee to establish procedures to ensure that all state and federal grants to the county are part of the county budget process and must be approved by the convention before any funds are expended.
Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) named Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), convention vice chairman and chairman of the convention's Executive Committee, to the committee along with Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Rep. Peter Varney (R-Alton) and Rep. Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton).
Tilton raised concern over the grant policy over a year ago when as chairman of the Executive Committee he pointed out that a $297,3000 grant which was received in the summer of 2013 by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department wasn't included in the 2013 budget summary nor referenced in the proposed 2014 budget.
He said at that time that the funds need to be appropriated by the county in order for it to be able to track all of its expenditures.
At a subsequent convention meeting, Curt Magee of Sanbornton reminded the convention of a statute (RSA 24:21-a) that provides that "all moneys to be appropriated by the county must be stipulated in the budget on a 'gross' basis, showing revenues from all sources, including grants, gifts, bequests and bond issues, as offsetting revenues to appropriations affected."
The convention then proceeded to adopt a policy which required that all state and federal grant requests go through the budget process and gain convention approval.
At this Monday's convention meeting a copy of the county commissioners' procedures for federal and state grant application and acceptance was circulated. The policy was adopted in March of 2009 by then county commissioners Christopher Boothby, Ed Philpot and Richard Long and makes no reference to any need for county convention approval of grants.
Rep. Sylvia said that he was under the impression that the policy which the convention adopted last year was in effect but Tilton said there was nothing in writing which had been communicated to commissioners, whom he maintained had ignored the convention's vote.
Vadney said that he thinks it is important that the convention evaluate all grants for overall impact and whether or not they will require funding from the county in the future as well as any restrictions they may carry.
''We want to make sure it's from a reputable source, not ill-gotten money.'' said Vadney, who last year said that the convention needs to assume control of the grant process in order to protect taxpayers. "It puts the delegation as an oversight group of the county so that we don't accept money from nefarious sources.''' He maintained that the county's acceptance of federal stimulus funds had created a level of spending which the county couldn't sustain
Tilton asked that a written policy proposal be presented to the convention for its consideration.
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