Meredith to decide Motorcycle Week change and more at Town Meeting

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — A proposal to charge itinerant vendors plying their trades during Motorcycle Week is among eight articles on the warrant for Town Meeting on Wednesday.

Despite misgivings expressed by the owners of both Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, who together host vendors during the rally, the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended introducing a licensing fee.

Mirroring the precedent of Laconia, the ordinance would require all transient vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450 and $500 for food services, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation. The licensing fee would first be charged in 2017.

The licensing fee is intended to defray the cost of municipal services incurred during the rally. Town Manager Phil Warren said that in 2015 expenses were $18,017, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660 from special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.

Anne Deli, the owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson, has repeatedly warned the selectmen against imposing the licensing fees, which she believes will deter vendors from operating at the rally. When the licensing fee was first proposed, she asked "Does Meredith rally want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?"

Russ Hart of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant told the board the proposal was "not welcoming" and said "we don't need anything to diminish Motorcyle Week."

A petitioned warrant article to rescind the designation of Blueberry Hill Road on Meredith Neck as a scenic road may also spark some discussion.

Other articles on the warrant include the 2016 town budget of $13.7 million, which represents an increase of less than 1 percent, and four warrant articles which together would add $460,000 in expenditures. One would raise $300,000 for the fund to replace equipment of the Department of Public Work's, another would raise $100,000 for the fund to replace vehicles of the Fire Department and the last would raise $60,000 for the fund to replace the solid waste trailer. By accruing these expendable trust funds the town the town can apply cash to all or part of the price of expensive equipment and vehicles and eliminate or reduce the cost of borrowing.

Two trailers stolen in Sanbornton

SANBORNTON — Police are investigating the thefts of two trailers from Black Brook Road that occurred during the third week of February.

The first trailer is a 2007 Haulmark white utility trailer bearing the N.H. plate T46937 that contained tools and construction equipment. It was stolen on Feb. 15.

The second trailer is a 2009 Blizzard gray snowmobile trailer bearing the Massachusetts plate of A49792. It was stolen on Feb. 20.

Police said video surveillance cameras from a nearby home showed the second one was taken by a full-sized pick up and at least two people were involved. The truck left the driveway with the stolen trailer and headed toward Meredith along Black Brook Road.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Sanbornton Police at 286-4323. Police also ask people who hear or see anything suspicious around their homes to notify them.

— Gail Ober

Commissioners slam delegation for using surplus to cut taxes (555)

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Two of the three Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning criticized the Belknap County Delegation's decision on Tuesday night to use an additional $605,000 from the county's fund balance in order to reduce taxes.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor, who pointed out that the cut amounts to about $15 for the average property taxpayer in the county, said that the money was "not wisely spent." Citing a sharp increase in heroin-related deaths, he suggested that the money could have been used instead to help deal with the drug problem.
"There are crises in our county. Instead of doing something constructive, the delegation decided to give $15 in tax relief," said Taylor, who also criticized lawmakers for not fully funding requests from outside agencies as "extraordinarily shortsighted."
He said that outside agencies like the Community Action Program, whose funding was cut from $86,905 to $60,000, provide vital services such as Meals on Wheels, rural transportation and senior companion programs, which enable elderly residents to remain in their homes rather than moving into nursing homes, and this helps save the county money.
Taylor also pointed out that the roof at the Belknap County Nursing Home has failed and that it will cost at least $550,000 to fix it, which he said would have been a wise use of the money which went to tax relief.
Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), who tried unsuccessfully Tuesday night to persuade the legislators to apply the $605,000 to pay for replacing the nursing home roof, said that the tax relief is only temporary as the county will now likely have to float a $550,000 bond issue to pay for roof repairs, which also cost $190,000 in interest for a 20-year bond.
Following DeVoy's Tuesday night presentation on the roof project, Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) questioned DeVoy's numbers on the bond, maintaining that it didn't need to be a 20-year bond and that a bond might not even be necessary as the county might be able to include the roof in its maintenance budget and pay for it all in one year.
The delegation approved a budget Tuesday night which reduces the amount to be raised by taxes by $873,374 from the budget proposed by Commissioners, with the bulk of that decrease coming from the use of an additional $605,000 from the county's fund balance to pay existing debt.
The fund balance, which some legislators refer to as the county's "rainy day fund," had been projected at $3.7 million in last year's budget but came in at $4.3 million at the end of the year. Legislators voted to increase the amount used to reduce property taxes from the $1.775 million recommended by the commissioners to $2,380,000.
The fund balance is made up of appropriated funds which are not spent and unanticipated funds which exceed estimates, which DeVoy said happened last year when the nursing home received nearly $1 million above estimates. But he said there is no guarantee that will happen again and said the county should look to the future and manage its fund balance wisely,
But Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton), who led the move to provide tax relief for county taxpayers and is a member of the House Finance Committee, told legislators Tuesday night that state revenues are running $40 million above estimates and that prospects good that there will be no cuts in funds going to county nursing homes.