MeredithMay2017

Real ID driver's licenses rolled out in New Hampshire

By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN

When the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles began offering driver's licenses that are compliant with the federal Real ID act on Tuesday, Jan. 3, response was muted.
"It's going quite well. We've been offering it since Tuesday. Some people are opting in, some aren't," said Larry Crowe, public information officer for the DMV in Concord. "It appears people are doing their renewals as usual, which we're thankful for because we don't want really long lines."
Residents are not required to obtain Real ID-compliant driver's licenses. "Other forms of identification, such as a passport, will be accepted for domestic air travel and for other federal purposes, such as entering secure federal facilities," the DMV explains at www.nh.gov/dmv.
"It's strictly opt in. It's not required," Crowe said. "As renewal dates come up, people can make that choice."
But starting Oct. 1, 2020, every traveler from New Hampshire will need to present a Real ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.
The 2005 federal Real ID act created these standards, prompting push back from some states.
"States at different rates of speed have been adopting it as we go along," Crowe said. Maine and New Hampshire were early holdouts (Maine legislators continue to debate whether to bring the state into line with the federal law).
Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature voted to allow the opt-in option for constituents.
New Hampshire Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare), one of the federal law's most ardent critics, said he personally will not apply for a Real ID-compliant driver's license.
The question he posed is: Are you concerned enough about the state collecting personal data about you that you're willing to put up with the inconvenience of carrying two documents, a driver's license for day-to-day use and a passport for air travel?

Under the system implemented on Tuesday, the default position is no, that the resident will not opt in.
"The application form or renewal form has at the top of it: Would you like to do Real ID? And there's a yes or no box," Crowe explained.
Libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, wrote nearly a year ago about Kurk's effort to stem effects of the Real ID law.
"Ten years ago this month," the institute wrote on March 16, 2016, " Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare helped start the nationwide 'REAL ID Rebellion' with an impassioned speech on the floor of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He objected to having a national ID card in the United States, and his words helped prevent New Hampshire from joining the federal government's driver surveillance program."
Since that time, legislators have received assurances that the federal government does not plan to store information gathered via the Real ID act.
The Department of Homeland Security reports, "REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver license information. Each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances. The purpose of REAL ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure."
Kurk said he supported the state legislation allowing an opt-in, due in part to a clarification of federal policy.
"There will be no national database as far as we can determine," he said.
"One of the reasons for the Real ID ban in the first place no longer exists," Kurk said on Thursday.
The information gathered at DMV offices will be held by the state and not by the federal government, Kurk said, based on regulatory guidance from the Department of Homeland Security.
"There is a database, the database is held by the state, it does not go to the federal government" under the change in policy, he said. Under certain circumstances, the federal government can acquire information from state databases, but only on an individual basis, Kurk said.
"The state must keep those documents on file for seven years if a resident opts in," he added.
Kurk objected that a Real ID-compliant driver's license requires an assortment of documents for proof of identity and New Hampshire residency.
According to the DMV, the requirements for a Real ID-compliant driver's license are as follows:
• For proof of identity: An original or certified copy of your birth certificate; or certificate of naturalization; or a valid unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. passport card.
• For proof of Social Security number: a Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration; or a paystub with full Social Security number; or a W-2 statement with full Social Security Number for the current year; or a 1099 statement with full Social Security number for the current year.
• For proof of residency, two of the following are required: valid, non-expired New Hampshire driver's license or non-driver ID card; a title application prepared by a town or city clerk or tax collector (must not be marked "non resident"); valid New Hampshire vehicle registration certificate (boat registration is not acceptable); lease, rental agreement or deed (properly signed by both parties); property tax (real estate) bill for the current year at the address provided; direct verification by a parent or guardian (if parent or guardian is not present, verification must be notarized); and within the past 60 days, a notarized letter from a property owner or current resident at the address provided; a mortgage statement at the property address provided; any current utility bill or delivery of service bill with "For Service At" address provided; a government check or a government document issued by an official in the municipality of residence, or a payroll check, payroll document, or employment contract.
"One of the problems with the choice is that residents will need additional documentation that isn't currently required if they want to opt in," Kurk said.

"This is a 'porcupine'-type state, we are small 'L' libertarian," Kurk said, referring to the symbol used by the Free State Project.
The Transportation Security Administration confirmed that for residents of other states, the deadline to comply looms closer. Starting Jan. 22, 2018, passengers who have driver's licenses or identification cards issued by a state that is not compliant with Real ID and that has not received an extension (like New Hampshire's) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel.
The TSA confirmed that a passport is not the only option at airports — although the alternatives such as military IDs or permanent resident cards are not commonplace documents for the general public (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification).

 

Gilmanton Budget Committee wants to know where town spending is

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — As officials wrestle with the coming year's budget, those in charge of watching the spending are questioning just where the increases and decreases are.

At a sparsely attended public hearing on a proposed $4 million budget Wednesday night, discussion centered on how employee wages and raises are presented, as well as the use of a large surplus the town has.

Wages and raises

One of the key differences in the proposed 2017 budget of $3,975,968, which is down 2.6 percent from last year's $4,086,091, is that raises for employees are included in individual department budgets and not as a traditional warrant article that expressly asks the voters if they are willing to allocate a certain amount of money for them.

"With respect to salaries, we don't have that information," said Budget Committee member Richard Bakos. "Every employee has already been given their wage."

Bakos is referring to a new employee classification and wage schedule developed by administrators and the Board of Selectmen over the past year. But what the Budget Committee wanted was to know is whether raises were based on merit, job title or cost of living. That information was not available for the public hearing.

Bakos also said that projected expenditures regarding computers, supplies and other items is reflected in the department budgets and not as a lump sum.

Town Administrator Paul Branscombe said increased costs in state retirement contributions and health insurance accounted for most of the departmental raises. An increase in hauling charges caused much of the increase in the 2017 budget which is down slightly.

Income vs. outgo

But, for the past year, it has not been the spending of the town that's been the hot topic. It's the income.

The town gets revenue annually from various sources, including fees for building permits and the like, automotive registrations and boat registrations. Some money comes to the town through grants, like the highway block grant from the state for road works, and other money comes from fees for service and other items.

By and large, the bulk of the revenue in Gilmanton comes from property taxes. In late 2015-16, the tax rate skyrocketed when the town neglected to transfer some of its unexpended fund balance into the revenue line, which is commonly referred to a "buying down the rate." It also appears that the car registration revenues were underestimated.

Earlier this year, selectmen voted to move $171,000 from the undesignated fund balance into the revenue site, which caused and will cause some easing of the rate for 2016-17.

But for some, the $171,000 is not enough.

Right now and according to an audited 2015 statement, there is $1,359,818 in the undesignated fund balance, or surplus, after the $171,000 is moved to revenue. With a projected $4 million budget, this is 33 percent of the total.

Selectmen made a statement that says that the town shall have between 10 to 15 percent of the budget in the unexpended fund balance and some, including former selectmen Ralph Lavin and Brett Currier, feel that 33 percent is too much.

They said the money in the fund balance is taxpayer money and that the current Board of Selectmen should move more of that balance into the revenue line for 2017.

For the purposes of the 2017 budget, the Budget Committee determined that estimated revenues except property taxes for the town would be $1,548,950 or $600,000 less than that determined by the administration.

Should the budget pass as proposed and include all of the warrant articles, Budget Committee Chairman Brian Forst estimated the tax impact of the budget would be about $4.08 per $1,000 of assessed value.

This estimate doesn't include a petitioned warrant article from the Gilmanton Year-Round Library for $48,500 in operating expenses. The Budget Committee will hold a separate public hearing about this after the final petitioned warrant article deadline of Jan. 10 passes.

Selectman can vote to move more of the unexpended fund balance into the revenue line should they decide as long as they don't drop below the 10 percent level or about $400,000.

County retiree expense surprises Belknap County commissioners

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners expressed astonishment at being asked Thursday afternoon to approve additional budget transfer requests just two weeks after having won approval from the Executive Committee of Belknap County Delegation for several large transfer requests.
"We need an explanation for how these slipped through the cracks," said Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) in reference to seven transfer requests ranging from $7,900 to $15 which were presented to commissioners from the Registry of Deeds, the Sheriff's Department and the Nursing Home.
The largest request was for $7,900 for accrued sick and vacation days for a Registry of Deeds employee who retired at the end of the year. The second largest was for $3,180 for wages for part-time court security officers from the Sheriff's Department.
Register of Deeds Judy McGrath said that it was no secret to her that the employee was retiring at the end of the year but the impact wasn't reflected in her budget. County Administrator Debra Shackett said she was also aware of the retirement but it ''wasn't on her radar" at that time that there would be a possible budget impact that would put that account into a deficit situation.
Newly elected Sheriff Mike Moyer, who was just sworn in earlier in the week, said he had no idea how it had happened, as he had not been a part of setting the wage line for the department last year.
Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said department heads are relying too much on the administration to monitor spending in the over 400 line items in the county budget, and urged them to be more proactive.
"We shouldn't be facing these requests at the 11th hour. We're dealing with an Executive Committee which is not as cooperative as I'd like them to be," said DeVoy.
Two weeks ago the committee voted 4-3 against a $84,492 budge transfer sought by the commissioners which was needed in order to meet year-end payroll. The need for the transfer had only recently been brought before the committee and was caused by a miscalculation of the number of payrolls left in the year.
DeVoy had protested after the vote that people had to be paid and Rep. David Huot (R-Laconia) said that the Executive Committee had just voted "not to pay its help at Christmas."
Executive Committee Chairman Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont) objected to Huot's comment and later said he would accept a motion to reconsider the vote, which passed 5-2, with only Sylvia and Rep. Marc Abear (R-Meredith) voting against granting the request.
Sylvia has said he will not vote to approve the transfer of any funds to a line which had already been overspent, which he said is a violation of state law.
Taylor observed that Belknap County has the smallest administration of any of New Hampshire's 10 counties and has no human resources director or finance director, putting too much of a burden on the county administrator.

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