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Public hearings held in Belmont, Gilmanton about doing away with SB2

BELMONT – A petitioned warrant article seeking to revoke SB2, also known as the Official Ballot Act, brought about six people to a public hearing last night.

The warrant article, signed by at least two members of the town's budget committee, needs a two-thirds vote to pass and would change the current voting system back to traditional town meeting.

Budget Committee member Tracey LeClair was one of the first signers of the petition. She said she supports returning to the traditional town meeting format because since SB2 has gone into effect, she has spoken with a number of people who don't necessarily know what a warrant article means but if it contains a dollar amount, they will vote "no."

LeClair gave as examples warrant articles such as money being expended by a sewer or water district. She said there's no taxes being raised, the money being spent is revenue through users fees, yet the article could fail simply because a majority sees a dollar amount and votes "no."

Calling supporters of SB2 the "just say nos" she said the law (N.H. RSA 40:13) that was enacted in 1995 was likely started by the "just say nos."

Speaking against the warrant article and for continuing with SB2 was Robert Racette – a familiar face at Town Meetings before the change in 2009 and at SB2 sessions.

"SB2 gives everybody a chance to vote," he contended, saying that annual town meetings prevent elderly, handicapped, and working people from casting their votes.

He said annual town meetings are often swayed to the positive by "special interest groups" who only have their own interests at heart.

The town of Gilmanton also has a warrant article for revoking their SB2 format, although it was only enacted three years ago. Gilmanton's SB2 hearing, held last week, was also very sparsely attended with three residents attending and all of them supporting a return to traditional town meeting.

When challenged by the Gilmanton Board of Selectmen about why so few people came to the public hearing, traditional town meeting supporter Vinnie Baiocchetti said the hearing was perfunctory – that it was a "yes or no" vote and most of the people in town had likely already made up their minds.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 01:38

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Licensing Board Recommends Stiffening Licensure of Pawnbrokers/Dealers

LACONIA — The City Council last night referred a recommendation of the Licensing Board to stiffen the city ordinance regulating the operation of pawnshops and secondhand dealers to the Government Operations and Ordinances Committee for review.

Both pawnshops and secondhand dealers are regulated by the state. The statute bearing on pawnbrokers (RSA 398) applies only to municipalities with populations of 40,000 or more, but may be adopted by cities and towns. Although the city enacted an ordinance "to ensure compliance of pawnshops to deal in legally obtained items" in 1975, the state law authorizing the city to license pawnbrokers was not adopted until 2010. The state law authorizes municipalities licensing pawnbrokers to also regulate them. Consequently, at the same time, the ordinance was amended to require pawnbrokers to provide the police a written record of property within 24 hours of receiving it and to hold property for 14 days before selling it. However, the ordinance applied only to pawnbrokers, and in December 2013 the police recommended it be extended to secondhand dealers.

The proposal prepared by the Licensing Board would apply to both pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers and would require both to be licensed by the city. A pawnbroker is defined as any person or corporation that lends money at interest and takes property as security, which may be sold if not redeemed. A secondhand dealer is any person or corporation that buys, sells or exchanges secondhand goods, but the definition would apply only to those who purchase secondhand articles "directly" from the general public.

Applications would be submitted to the city and investigated by the police. who would report to Licensing Board. No license would be issued to any firm, whose owners or employees had been convicted of theft, burglary, fraud or receiving stolen property in the prior 10 years. Licenses would be issued for a specific location and could not be transferred to another person or corporation. Licenses would carry an initial fee of $100 and an annual renewal fee of $25.

Pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers would be required to record the date and time of purchases, amount paid or loaned, as well as the interest rate, along with the name and address of the seller or borrower, type of article, brand name, model number, and serial number, color, any identifying marks; and if jewelry, the metal as well as kind, number and, if known, carat of any stones. The transaction record would include a color image of the property. The ordinance would require transaction records be kept for seven years

Sellers and borrowers would be required to produce photographic identification, including their full name, date of birth and street address, which the pawnbroker or secondhand dealer would attach tot he transaction record. Transactions with anyone younger than 18 would be prohibited unless they were accompanied by a parent or guardian, who would be required to sign the transaction record.

Pawnbrokers would required to hold property taken in pawn for four months after acquiring it, unless the item was perishable, in which case it could be disposed of within a month with permission of the police. Pawnbrokers or secondhand dealers purchasing property for money would be required to hold it for 14 days.

Pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers would be required to file transaction records electronically on a specified form with the police within 24 hours of the close of the business day when the transaction occurred.

Violations of the ordinance would carry a fine of $100 per day or suspension or revocation of license.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 01:15

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Wayfarer Coffee Roasters to bring single origin coffee to Laconia

LACONIA — Karen Bassett and Ben Bullerwell, together with Reuben Bassett, Karen's husband, and Aaron Bassett, his cousin and partner at Burrito Me, will offer another unique treat to downtown with the opening of Wayfarer Coffee Roasters in June.

Reuben Bassett said that while he and Aaron Bassett are behind the enterprise, his wife and Bullerwell, both experienced coffee roasters, will operate it. "Downtown needs a place to go and relax," Karen Bassett remarked, "where you can enjoy people and appreciate coffee," explaining that the goal is to provide "an experience that brings people downtown."

Reuben Bassett said that the coffee shop will operate in the space last occupied by the Vintage Cafe, which will be joined with the vacant space next door. He expected the Bassetts and Bullerwell would undertake most of the renovation of the property themselves.

Bullerwell, a licensed electrician who has been a stay-at-home dad of late, worked in Seattle, where Karen Bassett grew up, a city renown for its appetite for coffee. He also developed a appreciation for the ambience of fine coffee shops during a spell in Europe. Confessing that electricity was never his passion, he said that roasting coffee is "far more up my alley." He will be the lead roaster.

Bullerwell said that the shop will feature "single origin coffees," using beans grown at specific locations by individual farmers with whom he is familiar, which will be roasted to draw out their "origin profiles." All the roasting will be done on the premises, enhancing the flavor of the coffee and the character of the setting. Bullerwell said the offerings will also include "cold-brewed iced coffee drawn from a tap."

Meanwhile, Karen Bassett will complement the selection of coffees with a limited menu of baked goods, highlighted by Liege waffles, a specialty on the streets of Belgium, fashioned of overnight yeasted dough laced with pearl sugar that carmelizes during baking. She said there will a few other items, but stressed "we'll keep it really simple at the beginning."

Bullerwell said that that by roasting the coffee and preparing the waffles "we will ensure the quality of our products by controlling the entire process from start to finish."

Reuben Bassett, who plays a prominent role in the Main Street Initiative and serves on the Master Plan Advisory Committee, said, "the best thing I can do for Laconia is open a new business." He insisted that "Laconia has a stronger economy than most people think," noting that sales at Burrito Me, which opened at the railroad station five years ago, are two or three times greater than its counterpart in Plymouth. Firms like New Hampshire Ball Bearing, Aavid Thermalloy and Titeflex, he said, represent a strong market, he said, and the prospect of residential students at Lakes Region Community College will add to the customer base.

Likewise, Bassett believes the opening of the Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in Veterans Square this spring will benefit the other downtown eateries. "Unless it's another burrito shop," he laughed, "it's good for me."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 01:04

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County home chief worried about losing as much as $2.2M in revenue due to Medicaid Managed Care changes

LACONIA — Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue says that he is concerned that the home could lose as much as $2,194,000 in revenues, about 24 percent of it's yearly income, under the state's proposed implementation of the second phase of a Medicaid Managed Care system.
Logue called for an indefinite delay of the second phase of the program, which is scheduled to take place on July 1, 2016, in a letter addressed to District I Executive Councilor Joe Kenney that he composed this week. He also called on Kenney to reject any proposed amendments to the $2.2 billion contract the state signed two years ago with companies which will run the managed care system.
He discussed the letter with Belknap County commissioners when they met Friday morning and said that his concerns mirror those of state's nursing home community in general, including private nursing homes.
He said that Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas and staffers have said that the so-called bed tax, or MQIP  (Medicaid Quality Incentive Program), a federal matching program, will no longer be reimbursed separately from the nursing home rates and that there has been no indication from the managed care companies that these will be included in the new rates.
He said the situation is still in limbo and that the county stands to lose $936,000 in yearly revenue if the bed tax is not included in new rates rates. The change would also affect private nursing homes.
Another federal match program, Pro Share., which is paid to only county facilities, is also at risk and would not be reimbursed separately from the daily rates. The revenue shortfall to the county would be $1,258,000 million a year, according to Logue.
He said that the daily rates issued as of January 1 of this year by the state excluded $4.9 million in 2014 unspent budgeted nursing home funds which should have been carried over into the 2015 nursing home budget, as they have been since 2007, resulting in all but five or six of the state's 72 nursing homes receiving a rate decrease for 2015. In Belknap County's case that amounts to $145,000 in lost revenue.
Commissioner Dave DeVoy asked ''what can Joe Kenney do for us?'' and Logue said that the letter was designed to make him aware of the problem.
But Commission Chairman Richard Burchell, noting that the state budget also has a shortfall for mental health, said that he viewed the situation as ''not a question of knowledge, but one of priorities.''
Commissioners are composing their own letter on the subject of nursing home costs in cooperation with Rep. Donald Flanders of Laconia, a member of the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs committee.

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 February 2015 12:55

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