LACONIA — The City Council voted Monday night to table adoption of a state law which would allow the city to accept and expend sums of less than $10,000 in unanticipated revenues or gifts outside of the normal appropriation process.
Citing litigation filed by former Mayor Tom Tardif which claims the provision violates state law as well as the city charter, the council voted unanimously to wait until that case is resolved before taking action.
Tardif claims the council violated the city charter when it voted 5-0 on Oct. 26 to allow two separate expenditures for a total of $17,891.82 after posted public hearings were held where no one spoke.
In addition, the suit claims that City Manager Scott Myers did not comply to Tardif's Right-To-Know request for information about drug forfeiture money in a timely fashion.
According to an attachment provided in the pleadings, which are now at the Carroll County Superior Court, Myers received an opinion from an attorney at the New Hampshire Municipal Association who advised that the city could use the provisions of RSA 32:95-b — which dictates how towns can spend unanticipated revenues that come after the budget is approved — as long as council authorizes the expenditure vote by a two-thirds majority vote.
Tardif said he disagrees with the advice given by the attorney at the New Hampshire Municipal Association and said giving the manager free reign to spend federal civil forfeiture drug money would be like creating a stream of money flowing through the city for which no one could account.
He has asked the court to stop the expenditure of $8,000 for drug surveillance equipment and $9,891.82 for items not specified. He also wants the court to stop the City Council from taking any action authorized by its October votes.
RSA 31:95-b allows any town or village district to accept and expend, without further action by the town or village district meeting money from state, federal or other governmental unit or private source which becomes available during the fiscal year. It requires public hearings for expenditures of $10,000 or more. It does not specifically mention city councils.
The resolution which was tabled cites RSA 47:1 which provides that all powers vested in towns shall be exercised by city councils and would require public hearings for all expenditures of more than $10,000 in unanticipated funds.
The council did vote Monday night to accept and expend $3,000 in donations made to the city ,$1,000 from New Futures Inc. for use in drug prevention and $2,000 from the Lake Winnipesaukee Association for the removal of milfoil in Black Brook.
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