Candidates night in Tilton on March 5

TILTON — Voters will have an opportunity hear from the candidates running for town offices of Thursday, March 5 at 6 p.m. when they will appear at Town Hall.

There are three candidates for two seats on the Board of Selectmen — Pat Consentino, an incumbent selectman, Wayne Brock, chairman of the Budget Comment, and Peter Fogg, chairman of the Sewer Commission. Katherine Dawson is running for a seat on the Sewer Commission without opposition. Eric Pyra is seeking a three-year term and Juliet Harvey a two-year term on the Budget Committee.

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Letter of employment of behalf of Alton super's new contract sent to Profile Bank

ALTON – Alton Central School Board Chair Sandy Hayes signed a letter of employment for the new education services company hired by the School Board so that its co-president – existing Superintendent William Lander - could present it to a bank for proof of employment.

Hayes said she signed the letter after the School Board secretary drafted it based on the minutes of a decision by three of the five members to hire YET (Youth Education Tomorrow) for $125,000 in exchange for services for a superintendent and one year of services for a curriculum director.

The existing curriculum director, Pam Forbes, has expressed a desire to return to the classroom and tendered her resignation about a week before the selectmen met in a non-public session to hire YET.

As news of the pending contract with YET spread throughout Alton, residents pushed back. Nearly 75 people were at the School Board last Tuesday when the matter was reconsidered. After a lengthy session, the board voted unanimously to reconsider awarding the contract to YET.

Despite questioning from the other board members, neither Hayes nor the school board secretary could or would say who initiated the letter. Hayes said she signed it, but she is used to signing things on behalf of the board because she is the chair.

Lander and Gilford Middle School Principal Sydney Leggett formed YET, LLC in December and submitted the incorporation paperwork to the N.H. Secretary of State's office on Dec. 18.

Leggett was the curriculum director at Alton Central School who became principal in 2012. She signed a three-year principal contract but left Alton in 2014 to become the Gilford School District's middle school principal.

She tendered her resignation to Gilford school administrators on Feb. 12.

School Board Vice Chair Terri Noyes said yesterday the School Board has posted a meeting for today at 9 a.m.

She said the primary reason for the meeting is to consult with the school attorney – a session that will be held as a "non-meeting." Noyes said the board posted the meeting in the event the board wishes to take immediate action based on the advice they get from their attorney.

Some of the questions Noyes would like the attorney to answer include the validity of hiring a private company to run the school district in a non-public session and whether or not the letter of employment sent to Profile Bank should be withdrawn.

Noyes said the School Board also decided last Tuesday to form a citizen's committee to advise it on the hiring of a superintendent and a principal.

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Burchell budget plan would cut eight, including county administrator (583)

LACONIA — Belknap County Commission Chairman Richard Burchell, maintaining that the alternate budget developed by his fellow commissioners during an all-day work session 10 days ago is far too optimistic in its assessment of projected revenues, has offered an alternate plan which would radically reshape county government.
The plan, which Burchell says is based on realistic revenue projections, would cut eight full-time positions from the county, including that of the County Administrator, two of the three Finance Department positions, two positions in the County Attorney's office, and one each from the Corrections Department, Maintenance Department and Registry of Deeds.
It calls for a full-time position of a business manager for $110,000, including benefits, and adding two part-time positions in the County Attorney's office and one at the Registry of Deeds.
Burchell estimated a savings of $329,192 from those personnel changes.
Other recommended changes include dropping $34,200 in Genesis funding and going to a fee for service arrangement with the mental health provider, reducing contingency from $150,000 to $50,000 and adding $150,000 to pay for a jail schematic, which would add $15,800 to expenses.
He also suggested reducing anticipated revenue from the Pro Share program at the Belknap County Nursing Home by $100,000. He said that his proposed budget adjustments would result in an increase of $454,051, some 3.3 percent, in the amount to be raised by taxes.
Burchell did not attend the all-day work session on Feb. 6 at which fellow commissioners Dave DeVoy and Hunter Taylor increased revenue projections by $750,000, with $650,000 of that coming in the nursing home budget, which commissioners discussed at length that day with Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue who said state funding through the Department of Health and Human Services is uncertain and pretty much a guessing game.
The increased revenue projections, minus the $335,000 in added expenses, allowed the two commissioners to come up with a $400,000 adjustment in the proposed budget.
The work session was held in order to come up with cuts in the amount to be raised by taxes for the proposed county budget by by $1.1 million as requested by County Convention Chairman Frank Tilton of Laconia, who said he wanted to limit the increase in revenue to be raised by 2 percent. The convention had agreed to cuts amounting to around $740,000 in payroll and health insurance cuts from the original budget proposed by former Belknap County commissioners.
Burchell disagreed with fellow commissioner DeVoy at last night's meeting of the county convention during a discussion of placing $440,000 in the Department of Corrections budget for jail planning purposes.
DeVoy and Taylor had originally tried to increase the amount in the county's contingency fund from $150,000 to $660,000 but found out last week that a contingency fund can only be one percent of the total budget. They recommended increasing the contingency line to $200,000 and and putting $440,000 into the outside service/activity line of the Corrections Department budget.
''You don't have the money'' Burchell told DeVoy after the change was recommended, maintaining that it was ''based on revenue projections which I don't believe are accurate.''
The convention did approve the transfer in its working budget by a 9-4 vote.
Rep. Guy Comtois of Barnstead attempted to initiate a discussion of Burchell's proposal at last night's convention meeting but Chairman Frank Tilton said that he was aware of it and that it could come up for discussion at the next meeting of the convention.
Last night's convention meeting ended shortly after 6:30 in order to allow commissioners and Laconia representatives to attend the Laconia City Council meeting at which copies of Burchell's budget proposal were provided to the public and the press.

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