Audit shows Laconia is in ‘sound financial condition’

LACONIA — After completing its independent audit of the city's financial statements, Pat Mohan of Melanson, Heath & Company assured the City Council this week that the city remains in sound financial condition and the auditors provided a "clean" opinion with no major deficiencies.

At the close of the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2015, total assets exceeded liabilities by $59,818.945, a change of $4,549,523 compared to the prior year. Governmental funds posted ending fund balances of $15,332,243, an increase of $6,230,395 over the the year before. The total long-term debt at the close of the fiscal year was $42,538,768, or $7,340,912 more than the previous year.

During the year, actual revenues exceeded budgeted revenues by $190,891 while actual expenditures were $417,865 less than budgeted, leaving an excess of revenues over expenditures of $608,756.

To offset property taxes, $835,000 was withdrawn from the unassigned fund balance to supplement revenues in the 2015-2016 budget. However, with the operating surplus of $608,756, the net decrease in the unassigned fund balance was $226,244. Mohan said that the unassigned fund balance of $5,357,809, which represents nearly 10 percent of expenditures, complies with recommended guidelines.

Mohan stressed that for the first time the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report includes the city's share of the $ 4 billion unfunded liability of the New Hampshire Retirement System. The city's share of $37,059,606 represents 1 percent of the total. The city will never be billed directly for the unfunded pension liability. Instead, the unfunded liability will be addressed by measures taken by the New Hampshire Retirement System, which could include increased contributions to the system from municipal employers.

Low gas prices bring smiles

Gas prices fallAllivia Burbank of Canterbury is liking the low rate of $1.579/gallon at her regular fill-up station, Penguin Fuels in Loudon along Route 106, on Sunday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)Low gas prices are bringing happy faces to customers pumping their own gas at places like the Irving station at the junction of Union Avenue and Messer Street, where the per gallon price dropped to $1.67 yesterday according to the Gas Buddy website.
“I don’t travel that much, but I’m filling my tank today because I”m driving to the airport in Manchester to pick up my daughter. It’s nice having prices this low,” said June Houle of Laconia.
At the next pump, Diane Carr of Meredith said that as far as she’s concerned the low prices are “great. I came over here after I saw a $1.89 price on Parade Road. I shop around and this was the best price I could find “ said Carr.
“This is having a huge impact on me,” said Ben Peaslee of Gilmanton, a construction worker who drives every day to a job in Northern Vermont. He said that last year at this time he was spending $150 a week on gas and now he’s down to about $60 a week for his truck, which gets only 12-and a-half-miles a gallon.
Kim Perkins, an accountant who has clients ranging from Center Harbor to Newburyport, Massachusetts, said that a year ago it cost her $56 to fill the tank of her Ford Escort and now it’s in the $26 to $28 range, which she says is a giant savings for her.
It’s the same story all along Route 106 from Laconia to Loudon, where Gas Buddy reports the lowest gas prices in the state can be found, $1.55 at the EZ Stop across from the south entryway at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, $1.59 at Penguin Fuel at Route 106 and Shaker Road and $1.65 at Penguin Fuels on Route 106 just north of the Route 140 intersection.
“’It’s good anytime customers save money at the gas pump. That means they have more money to spend on other things, like a candy bar or a car wash,” said Dave DeVoy, who owns and operates the Gilford Mobil Mart as well as the Bosco Bell and Blueberry Station convenience stores in Barnstead.
He says that the lower prices don’t impact his bottom line, as he’s paying less for the gasoline than he was a year ago, and he thinks it’s providing a good boost to the local economy by increasing consumer spending.
Statewide, Gas Buddy reports the average price is $1.84, just a penny above the national average, and that the price per barrel of oil is the $30 range, compared with the $90 to $100 range of two years ago.
The drop in per-barrel prices is also having a big impact on home heating oil prices, according to Curtis Stafford of Stafford Oil, who says that his price is $1.739 per gallon right now for a delivery of 125 gallons or more, compared to $2.589 per gallon last year at the same time, a drop of over 30 percent.’
“People think we’re making less than we were when prices are higher, but it’s absolutely the opposite. People can now afford to have their fuel tanks filled, rather than partial deliveries, so we’re making fewer trips. Our delivery trucks use diesel, and we’re saving money there as well. The fuel oil dealers love it, “ says Stafford.
He says that lower prices have allowed many customers to save their money and spend it on other things, which has a positive impact on the local economy.
Benjamin Wilson, a financial adviser with Edward Jones Investments, says that company analysts say that the average consumer saved $550 last year due to lower gas prices and that has had a major positive impact on the on American economy.
“People have more money to spend on goods and services and since two-thirds of the American economy is tied to consumer spending that’s a big boost. If you multiply the amount of your increased spending by the millions of other Americans who are also saving money on gas, you can see that you and you and your fellow consumers are are likely adding billions of dollars to the economy.”
He said that from an investment standpoint it is important not to overreact to what may prove to be a temporary development.
“The recent decline in oil prices has certainly had an economic impact, but no one can predict how long these prices will stay low or what other factors may arise that would affect the financial markets.”

Alleged ‘Opechee Flasher’ jury pick is scheduled for Monday

By Gail Ober

LACONIA — A jury is scheduled to be picked Monday morning for Daniel King, who allegedly exposed himself to a group of children on Sept. 1, 2014.

A description of King was provided to police and a description of his car was provided to police during the investigation.

After a month-long investigation, King, who was homeless and supposedly living in the Concord area, was identified and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was found in Garland, Arkansas, and arrested on Dec. 10 by U.S. Federal Marshals.

King was extradited back to New Hampshire and has been incarcerated in the Belknap County Jail since then. He is being held on $50,000 cash-only bail.

King, 53, was convicted of three counts of indecent exposure and lewdness in 2006 as well as one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault involving a child younger than 13, in 1991.

In the time he has been back in New Hampshire, he was convicted in U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire for one count of failing to register as a sex offender during the time he lived in Concord. He has yet to be sentenced.

King recently filed a motion to eliminate evidence that he was "out of state" from Oct. 14, 2014, until his return as overly prejudicial. He claims he was homeless and free to travel anywhere.

The state wishes to introduce evidence that King was interviewed by Laconia Police on Sept. 19, 2014, and that there was some video footage of a man whom King allegedly admitted looked like him.

The state claims that his car was  abandoned at a rest stop in Maryland on or about Oct. 6, 2014, after he had run out of gas. The state claims that King abandoned his cell phone and used pre-paid phones that he regularly replaced.

The state said the Laconia Police were able to connect or "ping" these phones to assist U.S. Marshals in finding him and that it is evidence of flight, although it acknowledges that flight is not evidence of guilt and should be left to a jury to consider.

In addition, King has also filed a motion to exclude telephone conversations he had with a pastor while waiting trial as not relevant. He says the burden is on the state to explain why the conversation was relevant as these recordings are "highly prejudicial" at trial because of where they were recorded.

King argues that if the state wants to use any portion of the recording, it should have to prove the relevance of any one thing it wishes to introduce.

During the conversation, the pastor and King discussed who he would like to be on his witness list, some of his feelings about jury trials versus bench trials and his confusion as to how the Laconia Police were able to find him.

King has continually maintained his innocence.