LACONIA — Belknap District 3 County Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith), citing differences with newly-elected members of the commission, resigned effective January 1 at a meeting of the commission last night at the Belknap County complex.
Nedeau, who was first elected to the commission for a two-year term in 2010 and elected to a four-year term in 2012, had two years left in his current term.
He said that he couldn't see himself being able to work with new commissioners Dick Burchell (R-Gilmanton) and Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) who will take office on January 2.
''They (Burchell and DeVoy) don't even speak to me,'' said Nedeau, who was closely aligned on policy issues with the two outgoing commissioners Ed Philpot (D-Laconia) and John Thomas (R-Belmont). Thomas was defeated by Burchell in the Republican primary in September.
At last week's commission meeting held in response to the county Executive Committee's decision not to grant the commission's request for a transfer of funds to pay $24,000 in legal bills Nedeau told fellow commissioner Philpot that ''it was amazing to sit there and listen to our next commissioner basically swear at me.''
He said that he didn't think it was possible for him to work with the new commissioners and didn't want to place himself in the position of always being the minority member and unable to accomplish any of the goals of the current commission.
''Belknap Couunty will survive these guys.'' said Nedeau.
Commissioners Philpot and Thomas praised Nedeau for his work on behalf of the county as a commissioner and his previous 10 years as a county legislator, as well as his service as deputy sheriff for the county.. Thomas noted that he and Nedeau had worked together for many years as legislators and also as deputy sheriffs for the county and said that his service will be sorely missed.
Philpot noted that the current commissioners had set an example of working together which shows that ''we all don't have to agree but we always need to talk.''
Nedeau had served as chairman of the county convention when it hired Craig Wiggin as sheriff in 2007 to replace Dan Collis. The procedure was challenged by activists Doug Lambert and Tom Tardif because the votes were not taken in public and they won a court decision which forced the county to have recorded public votes by commission members.
Choice of Nedeau's successor will be up to Belknap County Convention, which under state law 661, section 661:9, is empowered to fill vacancies on county commissions.
The law reads: II. (a) If a vacancy occurs in the office of a county commissioner, the members of the county convention shall fill the vacancy by majority vote until the next biennial election of county officers. If the term filled is less than the unexpired term, then notwithstanding any provisions of RSA 653:1, VI, the commissioner district filled pursuant to this paragraph shall be added to the next biennial election ballot to be chosen by the voters of the county for a 2-year term.
The procedure used by the convention will be required to meet the public vote standard set by the state Supreme Court in the Lambert-Tardif ruling.
The commission also heard from County Administrator Debra Shackett that more budget transfers will be needed before the end of the year and will be presented to the convention's Executive Committee on Tuesday, December 16 at a meeting whose time has yet to be determined.
Shackett said that the nursing home needs transfers between Medicare A and Medicare B accounts and that trying to keep track of fund balances in order to meet the court ruling obtained by the county convention which prohibits transfers of more than $300 without Executive Committee approval has become onerous and very time intensive.
''I have the director of nursing keeping track of spending every day. Things change so rapidly on a daily basis that we have to review spending in quarter hour increments,'' said Shackett.
''This shows why the court order is wrong. It's completely unworkable and unmanageable. I don't think this was clearly articulated in court and the result is this situation,'' said Philpot.
Shackett said that the situation is going to get far worse next year and that there will be a significant need for transfers which will have to be dealt with.
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