Commissioners: Delegation counting on revenue that won’t be there

LACONIA — The budget adopted by the Belknap County Delegation last week has a potential shortfall of as much as $365,000 in revenue according to the Belknap County Commissioners.
Commissioners are questioning $290,810 revenue the delegation had included in the budget, which is based on legislation approved by the House by a 267-83 vote on retirement program costs in which the state would pay 15 percent of what is now being paid by counties and local governments.
The bill, HB 413, would appropriate $40.8 million and has been retained in committee.
Commissioners say that even if the bill is eventually approved, it will provide funds only for Group II employees in the House of Corrections and the Sheriff's Department, which would amount to only $75,000.
But Rep. Marc Abear (R-Meredith), who included $290,810 as a revenue in the county budget he proposed and which was adopted by a 9-6 vote of the delegation, says it his understanding that the bill will cover Group 1 employees at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said the nursing home employees are not members of Group 1 and won't be covered. The legislation specifically references teachers as Group 1 employees.
He said that it was reckless for the delegation to approve a budget which includes revenues from legislation for which funds have not been appropriated.
Abear said that the large margin by which the bill passed shows strong support in the House for the measure and that it will receive the support of the Finance Committee during the budget negotiation process at the end of the legislative session.
Commissioners are not convinced the measure will eventually be funded and expect that the county will be left holding the bag.
Commissioner Glen Waring has also questioned whether or not the county should be including a $175,000 revenue from the Gunstock Mountain Resort in it's budget. He pointed out that the proposed current memorandum of understanding which is being discussed by the delegation and the Gunstock Area Commission provides for only a $100,000 payment to the county.

Vadney rejects call for reconsideration of Belknap County budget


LACONIA — Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) chairman of the Belknap County Delegation, said Tuesday afternoon that he is not inclined to call a meeting to reconsider the $27.5 million budget passed by the delegation last week.

Belknap County Commissioners have requested the budget reconsideration, maintaining that the cuts made by the delegation threaten the ability of both the Corrections Department and the Sheriff's Department to carry out the statutory and constitutional obligations placed on their departments.

Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray said last week that he will not open the new 18,000-square-foot, 64-bed Community Corrections Center this September unless he has the money to adequately staff it.

Sheriff Mike Moyer said that the $126,736 which was cut from his budget endangers the department's ability to carry out its duties, which include serving civil process papers and court security. The cuts removed one full-time deputy position and one full-time dispatcher position and cut overtime by $10,000.

Gray made the statement after the delegation last Monday night rejected by a 7-5 vote a motion by Rep. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton) to restore $95,400 which had been cut from the proposed Corrections Department budget.

Gray has maintained that he cannot safely open the annex without two additional staffers. Lang's motion would have restored the $55,400 for the two positions and $40,000 for dietary department at the jail, which Gray had added to his original $3.964 million budget request.

He also cited potential liability issues which the county could face with inadequate staffing if someone is injured in an incident. And he said that the cut places in jeopardy the possibility of obtaining $450,000 in grant funding over a three-year period for programs at the community corrections center.

Man facing assault charge once convicted of kicking roommate to death


LACONIA — A parolee who served time in prison for kicking a roommate to death has been arraigned on a second-degree assault charge in the severe beating of a man at the Landmark Inn.

03-22 Jason DurginJason Durgin, 43, a transient, was returned to jail after his arraignment Monday. Bail was set at $50,000.

Policeman Gary Allen said in a court document the man who was attacked had a large cut on his lip when officers arrived at the hotel late Thursday. Blood was covering his face, which was extremely swollen. One eye was swollen shut.

The man, whose name was not released, said Durgin had punched him in the face and "tortured" him after they got into an argument about getting a woman to join them in a room in the hotel, according to the document.

Durgin was on parole from a 2011 negligent homicide conviction in the beating and kicking death of Leo LaPierre, a transient who occasionally stayed in a trailer Durgin rented behind Quik Laundry on South Main Street.

He served two-and-a-half years in prison in that case. One day after his release, he was picked up by Laconia police for drunkenness.

A witness testified at trial that Durgin was angry at LaPierre over a damaged water heater.

LaPierre was found unconscious by some friends of one of Durgin's other roommates and she called the police. He was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital and flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon where he died about six days later without regaining consciousness.