Pay now or later? - Belknap County commissioners debate options on financing new corrections center, renovations

LACONIA — Belknap County commissioners were split on whether the current generation of taxpayers should foot the bill for a new community corrections center and renovations to the current county jail, or if the youngsters of today will have to shoulder the burden in the future.
Commissioners are continuing to examine their options on structuring an $8 million bond issue for the work, with an eye to lowering the impact of payments, especially during the early years of the bond issue while the county is still paying off $1.4 million in current debt obligations.
Among the options under consideration are a bond anticipation note in which money would be borrowed as needed rather than in a lump sum, interest-only payments for the first few years of the bond issue until old debt is retired and using the county's fund balance to retire old debt while floating a 20-year bond with level payments.
Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) put a new option on the table during a budget work session Thursday in which he suggested bonding only $7,171,928 for the 18,000-square-foot, 64-bed community corrections center and paying for the $1.1 million in renovations to existing county jail out of general funds.
Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said a bond anticipation note would allow the county to borrow $5 million and $3 million later so that it wouldn't be paying as much interest.
''We don't need all that money now. It makes more sense to borrow what you need when you need it.''
He has also said he thinks that the interest-only payments for a short period of time with a 25-year bond is a good option.
When the County Convention approved the bond issue on Nov. 2, it also passed by a 12-3 vote a nonbinding recommendation introduced by Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) which called for using the county's fund balance to pay off the county's current $1.4 million in debt obligations over the next three years and having a 20-year bond issue with level payments of $530,000 per year over the life of the bond, which he said would save $1 million in interest costs.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) has pointed out that Gallagher's proposal would mean that the county would be obligated to $60,000 more in debt service payments per year ($530,000) than the level suggested by commissioners ($470,000), which would mean that the county would have $1.2 million less over those 20 years for funding other programs.
Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) opposed Gallagher's plan, saying that he favors a 25-year bond because it spreads the costs over a longer period of time and to future generations of taxpayers.
The same issue over the length of the bond issue came up Thursday with Taylor saying he favors a longer period of time.
"Spread it out and let the youngsters pay it," he said in reply to Burchell's comment that a shorter period where ''we feel some pain right now" is better.
Taylor said the elderly taxpayers of the county should not be seeing tax hikes to pay for a facility which will provide services to future generations, to which Burchell replied that future taxpayers might be in worse financial straits then today's elderly.
Commissioners are expected to review scenarios of what would happen under the competing plans when they meet Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Belknap County Complex.

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LHS lacrosse star Kenzie Howe signs agreement with BU

LACONIA — After winning their Division III state championship last spring, the Laconia High School girls lacrosse team yesterday gathered to celebrate as Mackenzie Howe signed her national letter of intent to accept a scholarship and play lacrosse at Boston University,
Howe, one of four Sachems named to the Division III all-state team, scored 60 goals, including three in the 12 to 10 victory over Derryfield School to claim the championship, assisted on another 27 goals and controlled the ball on 55 face-offs during a season in which her team won 16 games and lost just once by a single goal.
Kerri Howe, her mother and coach, said she could not be prouder that her daughter earned the opportunity to play in college, especially because "I watched the work it took for her to get to play at the next level."
Her father, Bob, who also coaches the team, said that Kenzie, who was courted by Boston University as a sophomore at Holderness School, has looked forward to this day for the past two years.
Kenzie thanked her teachers for "preparing me for the academic challenges ahead as well as her teammates and friends, without whom she would not have had this opportunity. She also expressed her gratitude to Tony Pederzani, who introduced lacrosse to Laconia High School more than a decade ago and, after watching Kenzie play soccer as third-grader, suggested she try lacrosse.
Kenzie said she started in third grade, and a year later began playing club lacrosse. Along with playing for her school, she has joined other outstanding players from across the state on teams traveling as far as Florida to face top-flight competition. Being coached by her parents, was sometimes "frustrating," Kenzie said, but she quickly added "You deal with it, and it made me a better player."
This spring, when Kenzie returns for her senior season at Laconia High School, she will be surrounded by all but one of the teammates who won the championship, including Helen Tautkus, Gabrielle Smith, and Natalie Compton who also won all-state honors, as well as as Lyndsey Paronto and Rebecca Howe, Kenzie's sister, who were named to the second all-state team.

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Perfection is an Aegean confection

LACONIA — Athens wasn't built in a day, and neither was baklava conjured overnight. Rather, it took centuries, perhaps longer, for the food to evolve into the decadent treat loved today: crisp layers of phyllo dough, filled with chopped nuts and spices, and soaked in honey. Many Mediterranean cultures claim baklava as their own, but in the U.S., it is closely associated with Greek cuisine.

But there's more to Greek pastry than baklava. Also common is spanikopita, which also utilizes phyllo but which takes a savory turn, with spinach and cheese in the filling. Both of these will be available for purchase on Saturday, at the Greek Pastry Fair held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church.

Mary Lou Beshta, organist and member of the church's Ladies Philoptochos Society, which is putting on the event, said there will also be lesser-known but similarly delicious items such as karidopita, koulourakia, kourabiedes, dolmathes, fruit bars and meat pies.

The meat pies are a big seller, said Beshta. Ten-inch round pies, filled with cooked pork and beef, potatoes and onion. They can serve four to six people each and are sold frozen with baking instructions, which means that they can be saved for a piping warm meal later this winter. "That's the beautiful part of it," Beshta said.

Beshta's favorite of the day is the galatoboureko, "a rich pastry over custard."

The Greek Pastry Fair is an evolution of the church's holiday fair. Last year, organizers decided to drop some of the ancillary activities, such as raffles, and focus on the treats that everyone was coming for, anyway. There will be Greek cookbooks for sale as well.

The Ladies Philoptochos Society is a charitable organization within the church. Proceeds from the pastry fair will be used to purchase needed items for the church, or will be donated to other charitable efforts.

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