Hosmer sketches budget impasse for City Council

LACONIA — Speaking to the City Council last night, State Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) said that while lawmakers have been working throughout the summer to resolve the stalemate over the 2016-2017 budget, he could offer no assurance that an agreement would be reached by the time the Senate reconvenes on September 16.

In June, the Senate and House of Representatives adopted a budget, which Governor Maggie Hassan promptly vetoed. Without the votes to override her veto, the Republican majorities in both chambers adopted a continuing resolution that maintains state spending at the levels authorized in the prior fiscal year.

Hosmer, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee, told the councilors that there will be no significant impact on cities and towns other than deferring reimbursement of tuition and transportation payments for students attending regional technical centers cities and towns that could effect the cash flows of some municipalities.

In particular, Hosmer reminded the council said that the sale of the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street is included in the budget and said that it has not been and is not likely to become a bone of contention. The budget projects the transaction will return $2-million in revenue, which he presumed represents the asking price. The terms of the transaction require that the state first offer the property to the city.

Likewise, funding for construction of the automotive technology facility at Lakes Region Community College, Hosmer said, will not be affected by the budget impasse and work at the site will continue until the building is complete.

Hosmer suggested that the outstanding issues in the dispute over the budget are the Legislature's insistence on reducing business taxes — both the business profits tax (BPT) and the business enterprise tax — the governor's wish to fund the contract negotiated with state employees and sustain the program to expand enrollment in the Medicaid program, and disagreement about the amount of the surplus accrued in the last fiscal year to be carried forward in to the next.

The governor, Hosmer said, proposed a compromise that would have immediately lowered the BPT from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent, but added 21 cents to the tax on package of cigarettes and $5 to the automobile registration fee. The funds, Hassan claimed, would be sufficient to fund the state employees contract and expansion of Medicail enrollment as well as increase funding for the New Hampshire Community College System, enabling the colleges to freeze tuition.

Although the governor's proposal was rejected out of hand., Hosmer said that "it moved the discussion forward" and noted that senators and representatives have been meeting "outside the media spotlight," which is conducive to "frank conversations." Hesitant to sketch the outlines of an eventual settlement, he did say that while he doubted the expansion of Medicaid would be part of a budget agreement he believed the program would be reauthorized in 2016. At the same time he expected the budget would include reduced business taxes.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the amount of the accrued surplus that can be applied to the budget, Hosmer did not expect the impasse would be overcome until the unaudited financial report for the last fiscal year is issued in September. He explained that while revenues in the last fiscal year exceeded projections, expenses, especially at the Department of Health and Human Services, also exceeded expectations. Until all the bills are paid and the tally is complete, the amount of the surplus available to fund the 2016-2016 cannot be calculated.

"We've got a ways to go," Hosmer said.

Loundsbury files for Ward 6 School Board seat

LACONIA — Heather Loundsbury, a registered nurse at Lakes Region General Hospital and mother of two students at Elm Street Elementary School, has filed to run for the School Board seat in Ward 6.

Loundsbury has been active in VISTESS (Volunteers in Support of Elm Street School), serving as one of the coordinators of the organization.

She is bidding to succeed Joe Cormier, who represented the ward on the board for 12 years, the last four as chairman. "I've got big shoes to fill and a big job on my hands," Loundsbury said yesterday. "But, I'm looking forward to the challenge if I get elected."

Grand Jury indicts men for bringing heroin into city

LACONIA — A Belknap County grand jury had indicted two city men who were allegedly caught bringing 40 grams of heroin into the city in April.

Jeremiah Proulx, 38, formerly of 740 Union Ave., was indicted last week for one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it, one count of possession of oxycodone, and one count of possession of more than five grams of heroin and fentanyl.

David Hobbs, 29, also formerly of 742 Union Ave., was indicted for one count of conspiracy for possession of a controlled drug, and three counts of possession of a controlled drug — two felony counts for dextroamphetamine and alprazolam and one misdemeanor charge for marijuana.

Proulx is being represented by the Belknap County Public Defenders Office, whose attorney Steve Mirkin filed a motion against his client's indictment, saying it didn't come within 90 days of being bound over to Superior Court from Circuit Court. He said his client had been held on $50,000 cash bail and was still incarcerated.

Belknap County Attorney Roni Karnis objected saying the time delay was because the Laconia Police "erroneously believed the (N.H.) Attorney General's Office was going to prosecute the defendant."

Judge James O'Neill ruled that because Proulx indictment was scheduled for three days after the 90 day deadline, he would allow it.

According to affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, police learned from a confidential informant that Proulx and David Hobbs, 29, formerly of 742 Union Ave. were "traveling south later in the day to pick up heroin."

A city detective watched the Lakeport house and saw Proulx leave as a passenger in Hobbs' car. The detective followed the car down Route 106 to Belmont where they got gas.

A few hours later, the same detective saw Proulx and Hobbs heading north on Route 106 and Hobbs was still driving.

The detective notified other police units who were parked close to the Lakes Region Community College who stopped the car. A second detective said he allegedly noticed Proulx reaching down while he was seated in the passenger seat.

Affidavits said that both men were taken to the Laconia Police Station, detectives search the car and found four "fingers" (each finger, said a former drug detective equals about 10 grams) of heroin hidden in a fast-food restaurant bag. A receipt found in the bag indicated the food was fresh and dated and time stamped April 22, 2015, at 2:43 p.m. from the same fast-food restaurant in Londonderry.

During the subsequent separate interviews, affidavits stated Proulx allegedly admitted the heroin was his and said he was selling it to make money because he was unemployed and going through a divorce. He also allegedly told police that he had previously sold cocaine and that there was a significant amount of marijuana in his apartment.

Affidavits said a search of Proulx's apartment revealed a safe with $6,000 in cash, several bags of marijuana packaged for resale, several "bindles" or specific packages used for the resale of powdered drugs, a scales and several baggies with powdery residue.

At the time, Capt. Matt Canfield said police had been investigating Proulx for about two months and considered his arrest one of the more significant arrests so far this year.