By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
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.
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