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Convention, commission still at odds over budget authority

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention huddled behind closed doors Monday night with the attorney they hired to represent them in their dispute with the Belknap County Commission over the authority of the two bodies concerning management of the county budget.
The non-meeting came after County Convention members spent a long day at the Belknap County Complex starting with a 2:30 p.m. tour of the County Corrections facility, a 4 p.m. Executive Committee meeting followed by public hearing on a Gunstock Area Commission request for a $750,000 revenue anticipation note and lengthy discussions over the budget authority dispute and the county jail situation.
The closed-door session with attorney David Horan lasted for a half hour.
The convention hired Horan, a former assistant county attorney in Hillsborough County, by a 9-7 vote on April 17 after several months of wrangling with the commission over who has authority over line item expenditures.
Convention Chairman Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) said during the Convention's discussion of the budget Monday night that there were a total of 92 line items which have been moved in the budget that the convention submitted to the Department of Revenue Administration and that the budget which was submitted to the state was different from the one which was presented to the convention for the discussion at Monday's meeting.
She said that the commission had rearranged the budget and cited two examples, one of which was a $5,500 item for legal fees in the Register of Deeds budget which the Convention had intended to pay the legal bills which she had run up in her dispute with county commissioners over the management of her office.
The other was a $50,000 reduction in the nursing home activities department which Worsman said had not been authorized by the convention.
County Administrator Debra Shackett said that the $5,500 line in the Register of Deeds budget was not an official account and would not be paid and that the reduction in the activities department line item was made by commissioners when they rearranged the budget to meet the $600,000 reduction the convention had made to the budget proposed by the commission.
The convention and commission have been at odds over who has line-item control over each and every item in the county budget, with the delegation asserting that it does have that power while the commission believes that authority is limited to the broad subtotals that define departments, such as the nursing home.
''The commission does not believe the convention has authority to create a line item,'' said Shackett.
Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) said it made little sense for the convention to work on the budget and then have the commission rearrange it.''Maybe we should just give you a bottom line budget if that's what you're going to do.''
Rep. Dennis Fields (R-Sanbornton) said that the budget process should work the subcommittees and that process wasn't allowed by the convention's leadership, leading to the current situation.
The prospect of the dispute ending up in Superior Court troubles Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) who said that there was nothing more alarming to him than the prospect of county budget procedures being decided by a judge.
''The last person I would want to see setting the budget format is a Superior Court judge. They have no legislative experience or experience in county government.'' said Huot.
He said that he had tried to get support in the Legislature for putting together a bill which would address the flaws with county laws which the dispute had revealed but found no one willing to work with him.
Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) said there was a lack of clarity in state laws dealing with county budget procedures and that she wished that it was different.
''How do we go forward without knowing which budget we're working on? This is not the way to do business,'' said Cormier.
Greemore said ''what we have here is a mismatch because for the first time we sat down and looked at the budget.
Rep. Herb Vadney said that any future requests from the County Commission for budget transfers should be turned down until the commission used the budget which had been approved by the County Convention.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 August 2013 09:47

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One injured in 3-car accident on Union Ave.

LACONIA – One person was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital yesterday morning after her passenger car appeared to have been struck from the rear on Union Avenue.

Police said her car was pushed into the car in front of her.

Fire Department Lt. Dave French said the crash happened in front of Laconia High School just after 11 a.m. He described the woman's injuries as non life-threatening.

He said the cars were able to be driven from the road and said all appeared to be headed in the same direction.

He said both drivers in the two primary cars were alone and the man driving the pickup declined medical treatment.

He said the passenger car didn't appear to be badly damaged, but the pickup was towed. He said it sustained considerable front-end damage that ruined the radiator.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:21

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90th Bike Week in the Black

 WLACONIA — The 90th running of Motorcycle Week again returned a profit for the city as revenues of $164,007 topped expenses of $138,774 to yield a balance of $25,232.

Since the rally was removed from the general fund budget and the special revenue fund was established in the 2006-2007 municipal budget, revenues from licensing, rentals, fees and concessions have totaled $1,247,518, which, less expenses of $1,111,378, leaves a current balance of $136,139.

Expenses include not only the costs incurred from managing the annual rally, consisting primarily of police and emergency services, but also capital purchases funded with proceeds from the special revenue fund. These include police cruisers, fire apparatus and defibrillators.

This year the cost of hosting the rally was less than the $160,950 budgeted. The expense of out-of-town police and overtime for local officers amounted to $76,329, compared to the $105,000 budgeted. On the other hand, at $17,455 the cost of trash collection was twice the $8,700 budgeted and a number of lesser expenses also exceeded projections.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:21

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Belmont High School Class of 1961 Holds Reunion

BELMONT — There were only 16 members of the Class of 1961 at Belmont High School and during Saturday's Old Home Day celebration 14 of them showed up at the Main Street home of Janice Strople Sawyer for a class reunion.
It was the first time in 52 years, ever since high school graduation night, that some of the former classmates had seen each other said Sawyer, who said that she got the idea for the reunion last winter.
''It was a January project to get me through the cold weather,'' said Sawyer. ''I kept running into some of the members of the class at Market Basket and thought that it might be a good idea for all of us to get together. Well, eight months later, we did and it was a really fun gathering.''
She said that remarkably all 16 members of the graduating class are still alive and that the reunion also included members of the class who dropped out or moved away before graduation, as well as one of their teachers, Madeline Tickess, 93, who today lives in Franklin.
Sawyer said that she lived in the Main Street home where the reunion was held with her parents, Harold and Sylvia Strople, who managed the Taylor Home in Laconia for many years, starting in 1951 and moved back there from Gilmanton several years ago.
She said that those making long trips for the reunion included Norma Getgen Alexander, who drove all the way from Williamsport, Pa., and Mary Jane Binette, who came up from Kentucky.
Sawyer said that John Walker, who lives in Montana, wasn't able to attend the reunion but had paid a visit to Belmont in May.
Thirteen of the classmates posed for a picture during the parade and another Roberta St. Jean, who lives in Florida, arrived before Old Home Day festivities were over.

 

CAPTION, photo #3

 

Belmont High School Class of 1961 held a reunion on Belmont Old Home Day at the home of Janice Strople Sawyer on Main Street. Shown are, back row, left to right: Lorraine Bickford Hancock, Noel Kenyon, Bob Hamel, Linda Gilbert Dalton, Claudia Sharps Goyette, Fred Firth; front row: left to right: Carol Young Marden, Mary Jane Binette, Norma Getgen Alexander, Sandy Clairmont Clark, Sharon Stickney Johnson, Janice Strople Sawyer, Carole Wareing Morin (Ed Engler photo)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:20

Hits: 327

 
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