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Huot advocates county can't build its budget worrying about Laconia's tax cap restrictions

LACONIA — Nearly a decade after the city enacted its property tax cap, Rep. David Huot has become if not the only, one of the few, public officials to openly suggest that the City Council should consider exercising its authority to override it.

Huot, a Democrat, was speaking last month amid a debate at the Belknap County Convention about whether to appropriate $336,170 to fund the pay raise and health benefits included in the tentative agreement negotiated between the Belknap County Commission and the State Employees Association on behalf of 80 full-time employees of the county nursing home.

Earlier, Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) pointed out that the increase in the 2014 county budget, which the convention adopted in March, matched the increase in the amount to be raised by property taxes specified by the city's tax cap. Therefore, he said any additional appropriation by the county would compel the City Council to trim an equivalent amount from one or more municipal departments in order to budget within the limits of the tax cap. Since Laconia bears about 19 percent of the property taxes raised by the county, Tilton calculated that funding the contract would add approximately $70,000 to the city tax commitment beyond the bounds of tax cap, requiring reduced appropriations of an equal amount. expenditure.

"I represent the people of Laconia too," said Huot, speaking in favor of funding the proposed contract. Noting that the county was obliged to fund the employer's share of the increase in health insurance premiums, he said "it is not a question of the Laconia tax cap." He went on to say that if the City Council overrode the tax cap by $70,000 the impact on property taxpayers would be minimal.

Huot later explained "I was simply pointing out that you can't run the county on the city of Laconia's tax cap." He said that the county is obliged to provide specific services that its 11 municipalities do not provide themselves, including the Registry of Deeds, Nursing Home, County Jail, County Attorney and Sheriff's Department. He said that Tilton "wrote the county budget to accommodate the city of Laconia."

Huot described the tax cap as "the third rail of city government" and likened suggesting it be overridden to breaking the pledge to oppose the introduction of a state sales or income tax. However, he insisted "override is an alternative in extreme circumstances."

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:17

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Tagging mars 3 more buildings

LACONIA — Police are reporting at least three more cases of vandalism or "tagging" that occurred in the overnight hours of Tuesday into Wednesday.

Capt. Matt Canfield said the word "GRIMS" was spray painted on the former Coca Cola building on Messer Street and on the Harvard Street School officel building that houses the superintendent's office.

Canfield also said one of the murals along the WOW Trail was defaced but the city is hoping it can be cleaned.

The recent spate a taggings comes about a week after seven individual instances over a few nights occurred. In those cases, the word "LAKER" was spray painted on a number of buildings.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.


CUTLINE: (Vandalism.jpg) Vandals struck the former Coca Cola building on Messer Street sometime Tuesday night spray. ( Laconia Daily Sun Photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:14

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Group looking to open cold-weather homeless shelter in Laconia area this winter

LACONIA — A consortium of people led by members of N.H. Catholic Charities and the Unitarian Universalist Society Association of Congregations are looking into creating a cold-weather shelter for families somewhere in Belknap County.

Should a suitable place and some money be found, the shelter would be open in the winter months and be dry — meaning no alcohol or drugs would be allowed.

"So far we have no money and no place," said Len Campbell of Catholic Charities, who is leading the consortium.

The goal, he said, is to have a cold-weather shelter operational by October 15.

For about a year now there has been some discussion about opening a cold-weather shelter somewhere in the city that would be more temporary than the Carey House, which is operated by the Salvation Army and is more long-term transitional housing.

Some of the hurdles faced by the consortium are how to coordinate shelter services with local welfare officers, where a possible facility would go and how it would fit in with local zoning and fire ordinances, and perhaps most importantly, where to get the money and how to line up volunteers.

The plight of those who are homeless during the cold New Hampshire winters is one both public and private entities have been struggling with for years.

Right now, area welfare administrators and police departments last resource is to put homeless families in crisis into rooms at a local hotel. Increasingly, the Carey House is full and is unable to accommodate emergencies.

The money comes largely from local welfare budgets or, in the case of the Laconia Police, from the relief associations that are funded through donations and fundraisers.

Part of the consortium's research included reaching out to three areas in the state that have some kind of cold-weather shelter — Concord, Strafford County (Rochester) and Keene — and gathering information about their programs.

The Belknap County members have seemingly settled on a model similar to the one in Strafford County that provides for community services as well as temporary shelter.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:11

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EPTAM Plastics founder sells interest in company; private equity-financed transition leaves management team in place

NORTHFIELD — The management team of EPTAM Plastics, Ltd., in partnership with New Heritage Capital, LLC, an affiliate of the Heritage of Boston private equity firm, has acquired the equity interests of Dick Dearborn, the founder of the firm, and his family, who have retired from the business. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

In an announcement to employees, Jeff Hollinger, president of the company, explained that the Dearborns chose to "see the company carry on in the hands of the management team that has served you over the many years." He added that "the Dearborns have been the type of owners you only dream about; honest, caring and generous, dedicated to helping make EPTAM the best place to work." With its generous benefits and collegial culture, EPTAM has regularly ranked among the best employers in the state.

EPTAM machines and fabricates plastic components to exacting specifications and fine tolerances for a variety of applications in the semiconductor, aerospace, medical, industrial and energy sectors.

Apart from affecting the transfer of ownership, which provides the Dearborns with liquidity, Hollinger stressed that the investment by Heritage represents a recapitalization of the company that positions it for future growth. "I would like to see the company double in the next five to six years," he said. "I'd like to see us operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Heritage will own 70-percent of the stock in the company while the management team and Dearborn family have also invested in the recapitalization. Bigelow, LLC of Portsmouth, a merger and acquisitions firm, provided investment banking services to EPTAM and the Bank of New Hampshire provided the debt financing.

Heritage specializes in investing in successful, mature enterprises owned by their individual founders or founding families, often through low leveraged management buyouts. "They look for consistently profitable, well managed, growth oriented companies to take to the next level," Hollinger said.

In a prepared statement, Hali Dearborn, vice-president of corporate responsibility, said that "the Dearborn family is proud to have grown EPTAM over the course of the past three decades by continually reinvesting in the business and putting the customer's needs first. We are extremely pleased to find an investor in Heritage that understands our unique culture ," she continued, "and we believe they will be great stewards of the company for years to come."

Hollinger described the transition as "ideal", noting that the company will remain in Northfield and keep its name. Heritage, he said, is a successful firm experienced in working with manufacturers, particularly in the precision machining sector. "They take a hands -off approach," he remarked, marked by monthly meetings with management, quarterly meetings of the directors and an annual meeting. Above all, Hollinger said that Dick Dearborn will always be welcome at the company's facility whenever he wishes to come. "We all love him," he said. "he is one of those special people who always make you feel better about everything."

Dearborn began EPTAM in 1981 with just two employees working in a shop in Gilford. Today the company employs 117 people in its 60,000-square-foot facility on Rte. 140. Hollinger, who has been with the firm for 22 years — the last 10 as its president — said the company has grown at an annual compounded rate of 10 percent and has consistently posted profits.

"We're competing in a $1 billion industry and our share is 2.5 percent," he said, "which offers lots of opportunities for growth." Currently diverse industrial applications represent 30 percent of the company's business while semiconductors account for 21-percent, medical 17 percent and energy and aerospace 16-percent apiece.

With the recapitalization the firm will hire a chief operating officer, who Hollinger said will "help us get to the next level as well as be my potential successor. I won't have done my job," he continued, "unless there is someone here who can do a better job than I did."

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:07

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