Gilmanton voters will have chance on Monday to hear 2015 town & school budgets explained

GILMANTON — After shaving off a few more thousand more dollars from the proposed 2015 annual budget Tuesday night, selectmen will be presenting a $3,498,074 spending plan to the Budget Committee for its public hearing on January 5.

The budget, which included all of the proposed warrant articles, is $270,000 less than the 2014 bottom line number of $3,768,526.

The default budget is $3,698,583.

At their meeting Tuesday, selectmen voted against spending $25,000 to do some repair work in the rear parking lot of the Life Safety Building and decided to wait until next year to purchase a 6-wheel dump truck for the Public Works Department.

Selectmen agreed that with 80,000 miles and the shape its in, the truck wouldn't loose much value from this year to next on a trade in and the town could easily get an additional year of use out of it.

The 6-wheeler was estimated to cost about $300,000 — $150,000 of which is already in the Capital Reserve Highway Equipment Fund.

Selectmen also had a lengthy discussion about whether or not to lower the amount of money budget for fuel and gas for 2015 in light of recently falling global oil prices.

While selectman Brett Currier was in favor of lowering the amounts, members Stephen McCormack and Don Guarino as well as Town Administrator Arthur Capello said they didn't like the idea.

The three argued that should fuel prices spike in 2015, the town could come up short. Capello also said that if they were to lower the amount for 2015, that amount would be locked in to the 2016 default budget and the town could run short then as well.

Currier conceded and the fuel amounts budgeted stayed the same.

The budget number also includes a 1.5-percent pay raise for all employee. Selectmen unanimously agreed a raise was appropriate that was consistent with the 1.6 cost-of-living or inflation index.

The 2015 budget also includes money for a new police cruiser — using $2,300 in the Police Cruiser Capital Replacement Fund and raiding the $32,600 balance from taxation.

Although the bottom line includes the petitioned warrant article appropriation of $45,975 for Gilmanton-Year-Round Library operating expenses, all three selectmen voted unanimously not to recommend its passage. The library, though open to the public, is privately owned and town support for the institution has been a continuous issue in the community for nearly a decade.

The Gilmanton School District public budget hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the Gilmanton Academy on January 5 and the town's public hearing begins when the School District hearing ends.

Concord man extrdicted from Arkansas to face Opechee Point lewdness charge

LACONIA — The man who allegedly exposed himself to a group of minors at Opechee Park Point on September 1 was arrested recently in Arkansas and transported to N.H by the United States Marshall's Service.

Daniel King, 53, whose address is listed as homeless in Concord, was arraigned on one felony charge of indecent exposure and lewdness Wednesday morning at the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

He is being held in the Belknap County Jail on $50,000 cash-only bail.

According to affidavits from the court, Laconia Police said they received a report that an adult male was exposing himself in front of young children but that he had left the area.

Police reviewed video footage obtained from the Laconia Middle School located at the edge of the park and saw a subject fitting the description given by the children driving a green Ford Explorer that he parked by the loading ramp.

The subject walked down the path behind the school toward Opechee Point and is seen several minutes later exiting the path. The video shows the green Ford leaving the school grounds.

While examining the video, police were able to get a license plate number and matched it to King, who is the owner of the car.

On September 19, police met with King at the Concord Police Department. In that meeting, he initially denied being in Laconia within the past few months. Once he was shown several photos of him and his car at the Middle School, he remembered passing through Laconia while en route to the Belknap Mall.

On September 1, he remembered eating dinner with a friend at a Union Avenue restaurant and said he was with here the entire day. He continued to deny being on Opechee Point or in that general area.

On September 24, police monitored a interview with an 11-year-old female gave a very good description of King and told police he was manipulating his genitals with one hand while exposing them with the other.

After the interview, she was given a photo line up of eight men and picked King out of it after looking for only a very short time. When asked how sure she was based on a scale of 1 to 10, she said 8.

Later that day, police also got a call from the woman with whom King professed to have spent the entirely of September 1. The woman told police initially she spend the whole day with him.

When police told her about the videos obtained from the school and told her that he had been convicted of of sex offenses involving children as young a 6-years-old, she said she was unaware of that and told police she needed some time to thing about it.

The next day she said she had severed all ties with King but wouldn't fill out a written statement about September 1.

Affidavits said King is a Tier III registered sex offender who is required to report for sex offenses against a 6-year-old following a 1991 conviction. His record also shows convictions for disorderly conduct in 1988 and three count of indecent exposure and lewdness in 2006.

A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was located by police in Garland County, Arkansas.

King has a probable cause hearing scheduled for January 15.

Police say man survided drug OD

LACONIA —  Police are investigating a non-fatal drug over dose that occurred Tuesday afternoon on Lafayette Street.
The 30-year-old man was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital by ambulance.
Police have not identified the type of drug the man is believed to have been using.
If anyone has any information please call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

2014 ends on note that faithful to rest of the year, lawmakers & commissioners trading barbs

LACONIA — The year ended as it began, with the Belknap County Convention and the Belknap County Commission at daggers drawn on New Year's Eve over the county operating budget, when the Executive Committee of the convention met to consider the commission's requests to transfer funds to cover payroll at the county nursing home.

Altogether the commission presented six requests totaling nearly $100,000, of which $73,165 was required to meet the payroll for the nursing home that falls due at the end of this week. The remainder of the funds were requested to defray fuel and utility bills.

The committee approved the transfers to meet payroll, ensuring the uninterrupted operation of the nursing home, but denied one request to pay a fuel bill and tabled requests to pay water and sewer bills.

Representative Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), convened the meeting in response to what the commission described as an emergency, explaining that without funds to meet the payroll, the staff of the nursing home would have to sent home. The situation arose from the temporary injection issued in August by Justice James D. O'Neill of the Belknap County Superior Court prohibiting the commission from spending more than the convention appropriated for the year from any line item or transferring more than $300 from one line to another without the approval of the executive committee.

Vadney opened the meeting by remarking that "most of us have had a hard time believing that this last minute crisis couldn't have been been foreseen." He said that others "did better than this 30 years ago before computers with pencils" and lamented "the level of brinksmanship on both sides during the last several weeks."
He was echoed by Representative Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton), who suggested the county administrator and finance director could have more accurately projected expenditures.

Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia) noted that in January the convention rewrote the budget recommended by the commission with little or no advice from either the department heads or the commissioners. In particular, the convention failed to fund the increased cost of health insurance for county employees as required by the collective bargaining agreements with the unions representing them.

To meet the county's contractual obligations in that area, the commission transferred funds, prompting the convention to file the suit resulting in the injunction. Philpot said that since August funding the operations of the county and complying with he court's order has posed a day-to-day challenge for the county administration.

After the meeting Philpot said that in criticizing the commission and administration for failing to accurately project expenditures, the committee was overlooking the fact that the convention, not the commission, made the projections and prepared the budget. He anticipated that actual expenditures would more closely approximate the appropriations originally recommended by the commission than those made by the convention.

Representative Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), who alone dissented from the vote to fund the payroll at the nursing home, pointed out that most of money was drawn from a $50,000 appropriation by the convention to hire two correctional officers. Noting that the commission refused to hire the officers, Vadney remarked that the appropriation was "turned into a slush fund". Philpot reminded Vadney that although the convention appropriated funds for the officers' wages, it withheld funding for their health insurance, without which they could not be employed.

"You knew that," Philpot said.

The committee declined to approve transfers to pay fuel and utility bills, which are payable in January, because they did not represent an emergency. Finance Director Glen Waring confessed he was "confused" after being taken to task for failing to project impending expenditures in a timely manner then being denied the means to meet expenses projected well in advance.

"This goes back to the two-year argument we've been having, " Vadney replied. He said that new county commissioners will take office next week and "this will give them something to do."