City spent more than $3,500 on challenge to 2013 election in Ward 5

LACONIA — Litigation arisen over the result of the 2013 municipal primary election in Ward 5 cost the city more than $3,500.
Dave Gammon, who with his wife and another voter wrote in the name of Tom Tardif for city council, challenged the result, which failed to record the votes, and ultimately petitioned the Belknap County Superior Court to order a recount. The city did not object, the recount was held and Gammon was vindicated.
However, no agreement was reached on Gammon's right to recover court costs. At a separate hearing in Belknap County Superior Court, at which the city was not represented, Justice Larry Smukler awarded Gammons costs amounting to $280.76. The city agreed to reimburse Gammon's costs, but asked the court to require him to submit an IRS W-9 form to comply with its internal accounting policies. The court granted the city's request, but Gammon balked, claiming he should not be required to report the award of costs to the Internal Revenue Service. He appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which in October ruled in his favor.
The Supreme Court ruled that although the city may require those receiving payments ordered by the court to submit a W-9, nothing in the rules of the court obliges the payee to comply with the internal accounting policies of the payor to be awarded costs.
The city requires a W-9 form of all individuals to whom it makes payments of any amount as part of its record keeping and internal control processes. The form has no bearing on whether or not a payment represents taxable income.

Altogether Gammon was awarded $816.49 in legal costs — the original $280.76 plus added costs incurred during the appeal to the Supreme Court — while the city spent $2,727.38 in attorney's fees, a significant share of which was incurred contesting his claim that he should not be required to submit a W-9 form.

County attorney will stay out of fight

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners are weighing their options now that Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen has declined to intervene on their behalf in a court case which limits their authority to transfer funds without the approval of the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee.
Guldbarndsen cited a conflict of interest in representing one part of the county, the commission, against another, the county convention, in declining the request.
''I can understand why,'' said outgoing County Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont), who recalled that Guldbrandsen had been reluctant to represent the convention earlier this year when it asked for her to seek a court ruling on budget powers which were an issue between the commissioners and convention.
He said that he and other members of the commission are talking about which course to follow now that the convention's Executive Committee has rejected a request to transfer $28,000 from one budget line to another so that the county can pay the $24,000 it faces in unpaid legal bills.
''They are disallowing us from defending ourselves but I don't think they have that power,'' said Thomas, who said that the actions ''have definitely hurt the county.''
''We have 4 or five (legal) cases that have nothing to do with any dispute between the convention and the commission,'' said Thomas, who said he is hoping that the commissioners will be able to formulate a plan for getting a court hearing when they meet Monday at 5:30 to review the budget presentation they will be making at a 7 p.m. meeting of the county convention, which will hold a public hearing on the proposed county budget after it meets to elect new officers.
Commissioners said when they met Wednesday that the result of the committee's action is that the commission can no longer manage the business of the county and that violates the terms of a temporary injunction obtained by the county convention which prohibits the transfer of more than $300 between accounts without approval of the committee.
They maintain that the denial of the requested transfer violated the "good faith" part of the judge's ruling which anticipated the committee would show good faith in approving the transfers.
Incoming county commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) said that it is ironic that the current commissioners have asked the county attorney to represent them after having denied the convention's request earlier this year to have her represent the convention when it sought a clarification in Belknap County Superior Court on the line item budget authority issue.

Children's Auction starts Tuesday; NH 1 News to play major role

LACONIA — WBIN-TV in Concord will be broadcasting live from the annual Children's Auction for four days next week according to Lee Kinberg, executive vice president of NH 1 News, who says that it is the station's goal to help the the auction reach a larger viewership.
He says the station will be running a commercial-free segment from noon to 2 p.m. on each of the first four days of the auction, which runs Dec. 9-13 and is broadcast in its entirety locally by Lakes Region Public Access TV (MetroCast Channel 25).
''Our signal reaches across the state and we'll be introducing the auction to a lot of new viewers by helping with our coverage,'' said Kinberg, who plans on being at the Opechee Conference Center on Tuesday for the first day of the auction. He said that Charlie Sherman, NH 1's special correspondent, and Shari Small, news anchor and reporter, will also attend the auction next week and will be talking to people and telling stories about what the auction has accomplished in the past as part of its coverage.
The auction was started on WLNH radio in 1982 by Warren Bailey and has grown over the years, especially after LRPA started covering it live in the late 1990s, to the point where it raised $510,801 last year.

From the start known as the WLNH (or just LNH) Children's Auction, the event is now being promoted as the NH 1 Children's Auction.
The WLNH is now owned by Binnie Media and broadcasts from the NH 1 bureau which is located in the former Laconia police station on Church Street.
''We're keeping our expectations modest. This is the first year we've broadcast and it's going to take us a little while to have an impact,'' said Kinberg. The WBIN news operation is now headquartered at the former Walker School in Concord, where people will be able to drop off contributions for the auction.
Kinberg and Robb Atkinson, WBIN news director, held a Skype discussion two weeks ago with members of the board of directors of Lakes Region Public Access TV abut the auction and the role they expect to play.
During the discussion, Nancy LeRoy of Laconia, a board member of LRPA-TV, asked ''Is all the money staying in the Lakes Region?'' which prompted the WBIN executives to say that what was raised will be distributed in the areas of the most need. They pointed out that the decisions are made by the board of directors of the children's auction, not by the television and radio stations.
Kinberg said this week that he wouldn't mind seeing the Boys and Girls Club of Concord, which now has taken over program management for the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region in Laconia, receiving funds, as well as the Friendly Kitchen in Concord.
The auction will be carried live on LRPA-TV from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Patrick's Pub will hold it's annual Pub Mania event from 9 a.m. Thursday until 9 a.m. Friday.

WBIN is found at channel 17 on the MetroCast lineup and at channel 50 on DirectTV systems.

Overall city property tax burden up 2.1% for 2015

LACONIA — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration this week set the 2014 property tax rate at $22.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 32 cents or 1.4 percent, over the 2013 rate of $22.08.

The amount to be raised by property taxes rose by $839,730, from $39,311,468 to $40,151,198, an increase of 2.1 percent while the total assessed valuation increased by $11,442,821, or 0.6 percent, from $1,804,204,123 to $1,815,646,944.

The city rate increased from $8.55 to $8.73 and the school rate from $9.40 to $9.67 while the state education rate decreased from $2.66 to $2.58 and the county rate from $1.47 to $1.42.

The property tax rate is seven cents higher than the projected when the City Council adopted the 2014-2015 budget in June. On the recommendation of Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), chairman of the council's Finance Committee, the council aimed to limit the rise in the rate to 25 cents, or to a projected rate of $2.33, six cents less than the rate projected by the budget proposed by City Manager Scott Myers. The council trimmed expenditures by $115,000, enough to project a 25 cent increase in the property tax rate, from $22.08 to $22.33.

However, although the total assessed valuation increased, the growth fell $7,557,179 short of the $1,823,204,123 that was projected. Each $1million in assessed valuation represents a penny on the tax rate. Consequently, the $7.5-million difference between the actual and projected assessment resents the seven cents difference between the actual and projected increase in the tax rate.