County holds marathon budget session, cuts less than $200,000


LACONIA — Members of the Belknap County Delegation struggled to find cuts in the proposed $28 million county budget in a marathon session Tuesday night which lasted four-and-a-half hours.
By the end of the session, the delegation had approved several cuts, including funds for a county human resources director ($65,540), a full-time dispatcher for the Sheriff's Department ($42,645) and the hiring of two Department of Corrections officers ($53,344) . But they were far short of the announced goal of several members of the delegation to cut $1.2 million from the budget.
Legislators rejected an effort to cut nearly $70,000 from the county attorney's budget and a bid to do away with outside details for the Sheriff's Department, which would have saved $35,000 but cost the county more than $12,000 in revenue. And, while they made several budget cuts of less than $10,000 in other departments, with only the nursing home, restorative justice and outside agency budgets still to review, there appears no way that the proponents of deeper cuts will reach their announced goal when they meet next Tuesday night to renew budget deliberations. Tuesday's cuts amounted to less than $200,000.
Members of the delegation supporting cuts crossed swords with the commissioners over the budget information they have been receiving, maintaining that the numbers keep changing and they're not certain what to believe.
"Every time we come in, we get a different number. How can we do our job if you're playing with the numbers?" said Rep. Norm Silber (R-Gilford), who was joined in his complaints by Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton) and Rep. Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont.)
County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), denied that commissioners are playing games with the budget numbers, saying that assertions by budget cut proponents that the budget was up by $2 million are erroneous. He said that the changes in budgets listed from the previous year in the printouts provided change as the information is updated and are not part of any attempt to manipulate budget numbers.
He said that the 6.3 percent increase proposed by the commission would only be minimal if the legislators hadn't used $605,000 in surplus funds last year to cut taxes.
When Sylvia later in the evening attempted to again question the budget numbers DeVoy said that the whole point of that line of discussion was an attempt to "'undermine what we're doing."
Rep. Dave Huot (D-Laconia) pointed out that the information provided by the commission shows an increase of $917,439 and that cost increases for a few budget lines in the form of contractual obligations total nearly $1 million.
He said that the goal of the community corrections facility, which is a driving factor in the budget increases, is to develop programs "which will in the long run save the taxpayers money." He said that it was "preposterous to think that the you can come to the $26 million level."
Silber proposed cutting the county attorney's budget from $827,269 to $758,866, maintaining that the increase was for hiring an additional attorney. Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said that the proposed cut was "arbitrary and capricious and being made without consideration of the impact." He cautioned legislators to be careful and cautious as they went through the budget, as they could open the county up to a lawsuit by arbitrarily cutting the budget.
County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen said that Silber's information was inaccurate and that she was not adding an attorney, but fully funding a position which was approved last year for an attorney to help handle the increased case load her department faces due to the Felony First program in which her department takes all felonies directly to Superior Court.

"There's nothing requested for new staff. We do have a union contract and I can't fire anyone except for cause," she said, pointing out that the proposed cut would require her to eliminate an entire position, leaving her without the resources to do her job properly. Her statement was applauded by the audience.
Silber's motion was defeated 11-3 and her budget was eventually cut by only $269.
The proposed county administration budget was cut from $446,992 to $381,145 with the removal of $65,400 for a human resources director and the information technology budget was cut by $1,800 after an attempt by Rep. Howard to cut $6,000 was withdrawn. Rep. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton) pointed out that Howard's proposed cuts were in already negotiated contracts with providers and couldn't be cut.
Howard also proposed to cut the outside detail budget of the Sheriff's Department by $35,000, maintaining that the deputies were using the department's cruisers on those details which made for more wear and tear on them.
But Sheriff Michael Moyer said that "no one is getting rich on these details," and that the county made a profit from them. Those contracting for the outside duty officers pay the county, not the individual, who receives a portion of the money paid to the county.
The delegation defeated by an 8-7 vote a motion by Lang which would have lifted the prohibition on the commissioners which limits their ability to transfer funds within departments without approval of the delegation's executive committee. He pointed out that there were 99 transfer requests for last year, some for amounts as small as $15, only one of which was denied. He said that the current process is basically a waste of everyone's time.

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Post-SB12, Sanbornton police warn travelers to pack pistol permits


SANBORNTON — After Gov. Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12, Constitutional Carry legislation, into law Wednesday, area law enforcement officials cautioned the public that they still will need a concealed carry permit if they plan to travel with a firearm into reciprocating states.
"Residents that would like to continue to have concealed carry permits can still get them from the Sanbornton Police Department," Sanbornton Police Chief Steve Hankard wrote on Facebook Wednesday. "Maintaining a permit will allow holders to carry in the other states that have reciprocity with New Hampshire. The list of applicable states can be found on the NH State Police website, under the Permits and Licensing section."
According to the State Police site (, the states that have indicated that they will recognize New Hampshire resident pistol revolver licenses include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In New Hampshire, it's now legal to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
Sponsored by Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-3), Senate Bill 12 repeals New Hampshire's license requirement to carry a concealed pistol or revolver, unless a person is otherwise prohibited. For those who choose to obtain licenses, SB12 will also increase the length of time in which a license is valid from four years to five years.
After the bill signing, Sununu delivered a statement, which read in part, "SB12 ensures New Hampshire citizens are guaranteed the fundamental right to carry a firearm in defense of themselves and their families, as prescribed by Article 2a of our state constitution." According to the National Rifle Association, last year was the second year in a row that then-Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed similar legislation after it passed the New Hampshire General Court.
Sanbornton Police Chief Steve Hankard said his office issued 140 concealed carry permits last year. While he expected that number to drop based on the new law, Hankard said he still anticipates some residents will request permits.
"The permits will still be issued as requested," he said.

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New planning director working in his third career


02-22 city planner TrefethenLACONIA — Dean Trefethen already had careers as a broadcaster and an engineer when he went before the zoning board in Dover for a variance that would allow him to build an addition to his home. That experience got him going on his third career, municipal government.

Trefethen was named Laconia planning director last month.

“I was last on the agenda and there were four or fives cases ahead of me and they had all gone through their process and it was like, 'This is kind of interesting. I could do that. I could do that.'”

He also learned something about the best position on a governing board's agenda.

“One thing I learned that night, and it was reinforced over the years – being last on the agenda is sometimes a big advantage because everybody is tired, they want to get it done, you come in with a typically simple, straightforward request and they are like OK, OK, OK.”

Trefethen (pronounced Treh-feh'-then) ended up applying for and winning an appointment to an opening on the Dover board.

He was later elected to the position and served on the panel for 17 years before gaining a seat on the Dover City Council, where he served for nearly a decade. He also earned a term as Dover mayor.

He retired to Florida, but he was attracted back to New Hampshire.

“Florida was wonderful, but we missed family and decided to move back,” said Trefethen, who turns 63 on Friday.

He is excited with the challenges presented by his new job, which pays $75,000 a year.

His first priority is a rewrite of an outdated master plan, the overarching document that sets parameters for future growth and improvements in Laconia.

“The demographics that are in the 2007 master plan are primarily from the 2000 Census,” he said. “The socio-economic demographics may be substantially different.”

The portion of population in Laconia living below the federal poverty level climbed from 12.1 percent in 2010 to 15.9 percent in 2014.

“The master plan drives economic activity because there is a workforce you need to have,” Trefethen. “Are those people here and if they are here, are they working in Laconia or are they driving south and going to Manchester or wherever to get the jobs or the money they want to get.”

He said the Planning Department has a role to play in economic development, depending on what the community desires.

“The question before the community is: What direction do you truly wish to go?” he said. “Increasing the commercial base requires that land be zoned to do that. Because if it's zoned residential, you can't put commercial there. By the same token, if it's zoned commercial, depending on what you want to do, you can put some residential there.

“Everybody is big, and Laconia is no exception, on mixed-use projects. You have a little bit of office and commercial space and above it or behind it you build residential. That works well from a community standpoint, gaining commercial but also gaining residents.”

He also said the Planning Department, can, through increased flexibility, find ways to foster development by fine-tuning some regulations.

In some cases, certain setback, parking and green space requirements could make it difficult for a proposed business to be profitable.

“Sometimes you have to make tradeoffs that are different from what people are used to,” he said.

“There are repercussions either way.

“I used to tell my kids when they were teenagers, 'Everything you do has a consequence. Sometimes it's a good one, sometimes it's not, so choose wisely.'”

Trefethen said another big priority will be code enforcement and making sure the city's housing stock is in lawful shape.

“It's a very difficult subject,” he said.

“We do have a part-time code enforcement officer and part of his responsibility is to go and drive around the city and look and see what properties may have issues and see what we can do about it. The first response is, 'We want to work with you. We want to make you aware of an issue, please to try to come into conformance.”


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