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Belknap Commission to ask judge to reconsider his ruling

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners plan to file a motion for reconsideration of the court order issued last week by Belknap County Superior Justice James D. O'Neill III which granted a request by the Belknap County Convention for a preliminary injunction which prohibits the commission from spending more money from any line item in the county budget than the convention appropriated. It also prevents commissioners from transferring more than $300 from any line item without the express approval of the executive committee of the convention.
Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) made the announcement when questioned about what had taken place at a "non-meeting" the commissioners held with their attorney when they met yesterday at the Belknap County complex.
''We disagree with the decision and feel we have been following the law,'' said Thomas, who declined to elaborate further.
Thomas had told The Daily Sun on Tuesday that, from the commission's standpoint, the judge had not been looking at the ramifications of his decision.
In the 2014 budget the convention adopted in March, $2,594,925 was appropriated for health insurance, the same amount expended in 2013. However, the commission, without approaching the executive committee, has transferred sufficient funds from other line items to fund the employer's share of the annual premium increase and has authorized those payments for the first three quarters of the year.
The commission has maintained that paying the employer's share of the increased cost of health insurance is a contractual obligation under the collective bargaining agreements negotiated with the unions representing county employees. Those contracts have expired and new agreements have not been ratified or funded.
In the interim the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) and New Hampshire Supreme Court have ruled that a public employer is required to maintain the "status quo" until a new agreement is ratified and funded. Furthermore, the court ruled that "that the health insurance benefits received by the bargaining unit members ... are conditions of employment" and the employer "must continue to provide these benefits during the status quo period regardless of the cost."
Representative Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, insisted after Judge O'Neill's ruling that there are no current contracts and that convention met its obligation by budgeting the same amount in 2014 and as it did in 2013. During the budget deliberations by the convention the members went through the budget line by line and reduced the amount commissioners had included in their proposed budget to reflect what had been spent last year.
During the first three quarters of the year, the commission will have spent approximately $180,000 more on health insurance than the convention appropriated. One option would be to lay off a sufficient number of employees, whose remaining health insurance costs would match the overage. The effect would be to balance health insurance expenditures with what the convention appropriated while spending less than appropriated for wages and associated costs. The Daily Sun estimated that this option would require laying off about 30 employees.
Alternatively the commissioners could reduce the number of layoffs and request the executive committee to approve transferring the funds saved in wages to offset the overage in health insurance.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 12:19

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5 GOP candidates vying for 4 spots on Meredith & Gilford ballots for state rep

MEREDITH/GILFORD — With the retirement of two of the three incumbent Republicans representing District 2 (Meredith and Gilford) in the New House of Representatives, the GOP primary next week has drawn a field of five candidates vying for the four places on the general election ballot.

Reresentatives Colette Worsman and Bob Greemore, both of Meredith, chose not to seek re-election to a third term. Herb Vadney, also of Meredith who was elected in 2012, is the lone Republican in the district seeking re-election. He is joined in the primary by three candidates from Gilford — Glen Aldrich, Russ Dumais, George Hurt and John Hodson of Meredith.

Michael Hatch of Meredith, the first to file his candidacy, recently explained in a letter to local media that he entered the race to replace Worsman or Greemore and announced that "there are many other candidates on the ballot with more qualifications and experience than me." He said that while his name will appear on Tuesday's ballot, he wished the other candidates good luck and said he would support the winners of the primary.

Vadney was raised in Francestown, studied engineering at the University of New Hampshire and tended missiles in the United States Air Force for 27 years. During his first term in the House he compiled a voting record that earned him high marks from the House Republican Alliance and Americans for Prosperity, both conservative organizations.

"I wouldn't vote for anything that would jeopardize the state finances," Vadney said, explaining his opposition to the plan to extend health insurance to those without it. He also voted against raising the gas tax, explaining that the proceeds would be applied to purposes other than road construction and improvement. Although a former chairman of the Meredith Planning Board and commissioner of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, he voted for a bill to abolish regional planning commissions.

Vadney served on the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee and is committed to developing alternative sources of energy from local materials like biomass. He said that limiting the role of government by reducing spending and easing regulation offered the best means of strengthening the economy, while conceding a shrinking workforce remains "a major problem."

Turning to the future of the county jail, Vadney said that "there is no question that something has to be done in the next two years." Skeptical of the plans pursued by the Belknap County Commission, he said that more analysis is required before deciding whether to renovate or build anew.

Hurt, founder of former Hurt & Forbes Insurance Agency of Laconia and a consultant since its sale in 2000, represented Gilford for two terms in the House from 1994 to 1998 and ran unsuccessfully for the New Hampshire Senate in 2010, losing the primary to Jim Forsythe of Stratford. He also served on the state Board of Education, Post Secondary Education Commission and Judicial Conduct Commission.

Hurt emphasized that he is opposed to a personal income or general sales tax as well as any infringement of the right to bear arms. A strong advocate for a return to biennial sessions of the Legislature, suggesting that annual sessions of six months would save about $15 million, which could be added to the "rainy day fund" to improve the state's bond rating. He also intends to join Senators Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) in seeking to ensure revenues from the gas tax are applied solely to roads and bridges. At the same time, he opposed the recent increase in the gas tax. He favors lowering business taxes and offering businesses incentives to promote economic growth.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Hurt said with respect to the Belknap County Jail. He suggested improving and maintaining the existing facility and adding a building to house additional inmates and women prisoners. "We can do this," he declared, stressing that any plan must be affordable to the county taxpayers.

Dumais, who owns and operates the Airport Country Store & Deli in Gilford, has long been engaged in local government, serving three terms as a selectman in Gilford and sitting on the Laconia Airport Authority for 23 years. He also served for eight years on the Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission, the forerunner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. "I'm not happy with what's going on," he said. "You need a permit for anything and everything. Government is too big, too cumbersome and too unresponsive."

Making his first bid for a state elective office, Dumais stressed his experience rather than his positions. "I'm a very sensible person," he said. "I only come to conclusions after doing my homework. That's what you have to do when you hold a public office," he continued, "look at every fact and try to come up with a sound conclusion. It's not brain surgery. It's common sense."

Dumais admitted "I don't know enough about the county jail to take a position, but I intend to delve into it." He described the $42-million figure being tossed about as "a big ticket," cautioning that "the jail shouldn't be a place where people want to be." Alluding to the tensions that have divided the Belknap County Convention and Belknap County Commission, Dumais said that "the dust has to settle" before progressing toward a solution.

Aldrich, the third candidate from Gilford, is a small building contractor who moved to New Hampshire from South Carolina four-and-a-half years ago. This is his first run for office. Describing himself as "very conservative," he said that he had no intention of entering the race, but "the final straw was the gas tax. It's not just the four cents at the pump," he continued, "it's at the grocery store, the hardware store, the drugstore and everywhere else." He is also troubled that "a third of the revenue is siphoned off and should be put back."

Aldrich too believes that lower taxes and relaxed regulation will encourage local businesses to expand as well as attract companies to move or open operations in the state. Excessive regulation, he said, discourages entrepreneurs and stifles competition, which are essential to to a strong economy.

Hodson grew up in Meredith, graduated from the University of New Hampshire then embarked on an academic career on the other side of the country, earning his Masters degree at the University of Alaska and doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. A biochemist, he turned to computer science in San Francisco before returning to Longridge Farm in Meredith in the 1970s. "My father needed me," he said.

"I've been a moderate Republican all my life," Hodson said. He noted that he originally decided to run because of the conflict between the convention and the commission in Belknap County. "The Tea Party got control and really made a mess," he remarked. "Things really fell apart."

Hodson , who has farmed in Meredith for more than four decades, has been involved with the Belknap County Conservation District and New Hampshire Farm Bureau for almost all that time and also served on Lakes Region Planning Commission and Lakes Region Conservation Trust, each for more than a decade. In the House he said he would expect to serve on the Environment and Agriculture Committee, before which he has often testified,

Hodson confessed "I'm not an expert on jail construction," but ventured that the plan proposed by Ricci Greene Associates is "unaffordable." He said that "something can be done for much less that would bring the jail up to standard and provide the programs to reduce recidivism. "

The primary election is on Tuesday, September 9. The four top Republican vote getters will face Democrats Lisa DiMartino, Nancy Frost and Dorothy Piquado of Gilford and Sanra Mucci of Meredith in the general election on November 4.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 02:05

Hits: 272

5 GOP candidates vying for 4 spots on Meredith & Gilford ballots for state rep

MEREDITH/GILFORD — With the retirement of two of the three incumbent Republicans representing District 2 (Meredith and Gilford) in the New House of Representatives, the GOP primary next week has drawn a field of five candidates vying for the four places on the general election ballot.

Reresentatives Colette Worsman and Bob Greemore, both of Meredith, chose not to seek re-election to a third term. Herb Vadney, also of Meredith who was elected in 2012, is the lone Republican in the district seeking re-election. He is joined in the primary by three candidates from Gilford — Glen Aldrich, Russ Dumais, George Hurt and John Hodson of Meredith.

Michael Hatch of Meredith, the first to file his candidacy, recently explained in a letter to local media that he entered the race to replace Worsman or Greemore and announced that "there are many other candidates on the ballot with more qualifications and experience than me." He said that while his name will appear on Tuesday's ballot, he wished the other candidates good luck and said he would support the winners of the primary.

Vadney was raised in Francestown, studied engineering at the University of New Hampshire and tended missiles in the United States Air Force for 27 years. During his first term in the House he compiled a voting record that earned him high marks from the House Republican Alliance and Americans for Prosperity, both conservative organizations.

"I wouldn't vote for anything that would jeopardize the state finances," Vadney said, explaining his opposition to the plan to extend health insurance to those without it. He also voted against raising the gas tax, explaining that the proceeds would be applied to purposes other than road construction and improvement. Although a former chairman of the Meredith Planning Board and commissioner of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, he voted for a bill to abolish regional planning commissions.

Vadney served on the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee and is committed to developing alternative sources of energy from local materials like biomass. He said that limiting the role of government by reducing spending and easing regulation offered the best means of strengthening the economy, while conceding a shrinking workforce remains "a major problem."

Turning to the future of the county jail, Vadney said that "there is no question that something has to be done in the next two years." Skeptical of the plans pursued by the Belknap County Commission, he said that more analysis is required before deciding whether to renovate or build anew.

Hurt, founder of former Hurt & Forbes Insurance Agency of Laconia and a consultant since its sale in 2000, represented Gilford for two terms in the House from 1994 to 1998 and ran unsuccessfully for the New Hampshire Senate in 2010, losing the primary to Jim Forsythe of Stratford. He also served on the state Board of Education, Post Secondary Education Commission and Judicial Conduct Commission.

Hurt emphasized that he is opposed to a personal income or general sales tax as well as any infringement of the right to bear arms. A strong advocate for a return to biennial sessions of the Legislature, suggesting that annual sessions of six months would save about $15 million, which could be added to the "rainy day fund" to improve the state's bond rating. He also intends to join Senators Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) in seeking to ensure revenues from the gas tax are applied solely to roads and bridges. At the same time, he opposed the recent increase in the gas tax. He favors lowering business taxes and offering businesses incentives to promote economic growth.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Hurt said with respect to the Belknap County Jail. He suggested improving and maintaining the existing facility and adding a building to house additional inmates and women prisoners. "We can do this," he declared, stressing that any plan must be affordable to the county taxpayers.

Dumais, who owns and operates the Airport Country Store & Deli in Gilford, has long been engaged in local government, serving three terms as a selectman in Gilford and sitting on the Laconia Airport Authority for 23 years. He also served for eight years on the Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission, the forerunner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. "I'm not happy with what's going on," he said. "You need a permit for anything and everything. Government is too big, too cumbersome and too unresponsive."

Making his first bid for a state elective office, Dumais stressed his experience rather than his positions. "I'm a very sensible person," he said. "I only come to conclusions after doing my homework. That's what you have to do when you hold a public office," he continued, "look at every fact and try to come up with a sound conclusion. It's not brain surgery. It's common sense."

Dumais admitted "I don't know enough about the county jail to take a position, but I intend to delve into it." He described the $42-million figure being tossed about as "a big ticket," cautioning that "the jail shouldn't be a place where people want to be." Alluding to the tensions that have divided the Belknap County Convention and Belknap County Commission, Dumais said that "the dust has to settle" before progressing toward a solution.

Aldrich, the third candidate from Gilford, is a small building contractor who moved to New Hampshire from South Carolina four-and-a-half years ago. This is his first run for office. Describing himself as "very conservative," he said that he had no intention of entering the race, but "the final straw was the gas tax. It's not just the four cents at the pump," he continued, "it's at the grocery store, the hardware store, the drugstore and everywhere else." He is also troubled that "a third of the revenue is siphoned off and should be put back."

Aldrich too believes that lower taxes and relaxed regulation will encourage local businesses to expand as well as attract companies to move or open operations in the state. Excessive regulation, he said, discourages entrepreneurs and stifles competition, which are essential to to a strong economy.

Hodson grew up in Meredith, graduated from the University of New Hampshire then embarked on an academic career on the other side of the country, earning his Masters degree at the University of Alaska and doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. A biochemist, he turned to computer science in San Francisco before returning to Longridge Farm in Meredith in the 1970s. "My father needed me," he said.

"I've been a moderate Republican all my life," Hodson said. He noted that he originally decided to run because of the conflict between the convention and the commission in Belknap County. "The Tea Party got control and really made a mess," he remarked. "Things really fell apart."

Hodson , who has farmed in Meredith for more than four decades, has been involved with the Belknap County Conservation District and New Hampshire Farm Bureau for almost all that time and also served on Lakes Region Planning Commission and Lakes Region Conservation Trust, each for more than a decade. In the House he said he would expect to serve on the Environment and Agriculture Committee, before which he has often testified,

Hodson confessed "I'm not an expert on jail construction," but ventured that the plan proposed by Ricci Greene Associates is "unaffordable." He said that "something can be done for much less that would bring the jail up to standard and provide the programs to reduce recidivism. "

The primary election is on Tuesday, September 9. The four top Republican vote getters will face Democrats Lisa DiMartino, Nancy Frost and Dorothy Piquado of Gilford and Sanra Mucci of Meredith in the general election on November 4.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 02:05

Hits: 511

Laconia schools will pay half the cost of reconstructing half-circle drive at LHS

LACONIA — As part of the Union Avenue reconstruction project, the city has offered to pay one-half of the expenses involved in replacing the half-circle school bus drop-off lane in front of the High School.

Business Administrator Ed Emond told the School Board's Budget and Personnel Committee Tuesday night that the estimated cost of redoing the half-circle — which includes widening it and rebuilding the curbs on the sidewalk portion — is between $35,000 and $40,000.

He recommended spending between $15,000 to $20,000 from the School District's contingency fund.

Committee Chair Scott Vachon said he was a little confused because he thought the city had agreed to fix at its own cost whatever damage was done during the course of the roadway construction.

Emond said that was true. However, he noted that the curbs along the side walk portion have crumbled over time and have been beveled. He added that the semi-circle is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

Committee member Joe Cormier said he thought a student had fallen getting of a school bus within the past few years and had suffered a broken leg.

Committee members said that since it appears the semi-circle needs repairing to become ADA compliant and with the city's help they can get half of it paid for, then it makes sense to do it and do it properly.

However, all decided that the district should wait until the engineering is complete before committing the money to the project.

Emond said he should have more information for the next meeting.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 01:28

Hits: 189

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