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Belmont Selectboard concerned about lack of oversight for Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid budget

BELMONT — Selectmen have agreed to sign a contract with Lakes Regional Mutual Fire Aid for dispatch services for the Fire Department but said in their meeting last week that they would like to see more oversight of the agency's budget preparation.

Each member agency or community, said Selectman Jon Pike, has one vote regardless of the size of the population and his primary concern was how the LRMFA develops its budget. He said Belmont pays about 6 percent of the total budget.

Pike said every other outside agencies who requests money from the town of Belmont comes before the Board of Selectmen, and he thinks that since the bill for the Belknap County communities covered by LRMFA no longer goes through the county budget process, he wants them to approach the town directly.

"We can no longer go to the county to ask questions about the budget," Pike said.

In 2013, the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid budget was $554,000 for the 11 Belknap County communities. That bill was apportioned to each individual county tax payer based on equalized taxable property value and included in the county portion of an annual tax bill.

Beginning in 2014, the LRMFA budget, which is about the same as last year, is being being billed directly to each of the 36 member communities — including the 11 communities in Belknap County.

Belmont's portion of the LRMFA budget will increase from what would have been $34,381 to $52,671 — a difference of $18,290. The difference is because the agency allocates expenses to member communities based on a formula that taxes both property value and population into account, not just property value. Because Belmont has little lakefront property to tax, is ratio of population to property value is relatively high for the region.

Pike said he supports Belmont's participation in Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid and believes the the agency provides excellent services to the town. But as a steward of Belmont's tax dollars, he said he believes there should be more oversight on the part of the selectmen and the Budget Committee on its budget.

Selectboard Chair Ron Cormier said he is concerned that in future years, the LRMFA will simply present a budget with no set parameters for how the budget is developed.

Selectmen agreed that in the near future someone from the LRMFA should be asked to come to a selectman's meeting to discuss future budget preparation.

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 December 2013 12:21

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Gilford woman stopped for traffic violation facing long list of charges in Mass.

LACONIA — A local woman is being held on a fugitive from justice warrant from Massachusetts after being stopped by a N.H State Police Trooper who noticed the vehicle she was driving had a burned-out brake light.

Selina Armes, 31, who gave her address as 2652 Lake Shore Road in Gilford, is wanted for either not appearing in court to face a variety of charges in Harwick, Mass. or for probation violations. The charges include four counts of credit card forgery, check forgery, cashing a check under false premises, three counts of distributing a Class B drug and two counts of possession of a Class B drug.

She is also facing additional Massachusetts charges of driving after her license was suspended, conspiracy to violate drug laws, reckless endangerment of a child, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, assault and battery to intimidate for reasons of race or religion, assault with a dangerous weapon, and witness, juror, or police intimidation.

State Police said four of the warrants were extraditable.

Armes told her attorney all of the charges were probation violations and not new charges.

4th Circuit Court Judge Jim Carroll asked the State Police prosecutor if the Massachusetts authorities were coming to get her. The trooper said someone from Massachusetts would come, but Armes had told her during the arrest that she didn't want to go back to Massachusetts.

Attorney Steve Mirkin said Armes told him they were all probation violations, but said he hadn't yet seen the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) register.

Mirkin also said Armes has a 5-year-old child and would agree to live in Laconia with her parents until the courts sort through the Massachusetts charges. He argued she should be released on high personal recognizance bail.

Carroll ordered her held on $25,000 cash or corporate surety. As of 7 p.m. Monday, she was still being held in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 12:54

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Police release identity of 30-year-old found dead at hotel

LACONIA — Police have identified the 30-year-old man who was found dead at the downtown Landmark Inn on December 24 as Tony "T.A." Hartford of Gilmanton.

Police said he was found by a hotel employee when one of his family members called them and asked them to check on him.

There were no obvious signs of trauma and police are not releasing any further information until the N.H. Medical Examiner completes an autopsy.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252 or leave an anonymous tip at the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 12:09

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Parks & Rec agrees to take responsibility for financial affairs of Tardif Park Association

LACONIA — With the Tardif Park Association down to a single member, the Parks and Recreation Department has assumed responsibility for its financial affairs for an indefinite period.

Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, said this week that Kevin Moulton, who has been managing and maintaining the park house alone for more than four years approached the Parks and Recreation Commission in November, seeking assistance with the operations of the park. Last week, the commission agreed to manage the finances while Moulton will continue to schedule and manage the renting of the park house, located off Highland Street.

Dunleavy said that Moulton, with help from the department, will also continue seeking to enlist volunteers to assist with the management of the park. "We're still looking to shake people out of the bushes," he remarked.

The turn of events was not unexpected. The Parks and Recreation Commission has been concerned about the viability of the park associations for some time and more than a year ago directed Dunleavy to take steps to increase membership. Dunleavy said that in their heyday the park association memberships ranged between 50 and 100 and served as the social hub of close-knit neighborhoods. The park houses were originally constructed by the city and leased to the park associations, which in turn rent them to civic and social organizations as well as families and individuals for meetings and functions. The associations apply the rental income to the upkeep of the park houses.

However, Dunleavy said that as alternative forms of entertainment have multiplied, demands on two-income households have mounted and bonds among neighbors have frayed, membership has declined. Without viable associations, he said, the responsibility for maintaining and managing the park houses would fall to the city.

Memorial Park, where the park house has been leased since the 1980s, has not an active association for years. At Wyatt Park, also in the South End, the park house was closed, demolished and not rebuilt when major improvements were recently undertaken at the park. Leavitt Park and the Weirs Community Park both enjoy active associations while the association at Opechee Park has been in limbo in anticipation of rebuilding the park house, which was demolished in 2011.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 12:05

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