'Accounting manager' will replace 'finance director' at Belknap County

LACONIA — The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Convention Tuesday night approved the 2015 budget transfer of $87,482 from a Personnel Management Reserve Fund to pay for hiring an accounting manager for the finance department.
Belknap County Commissioners said that they need the money in order to fill the $65,000 a year accounting manager position, which was created to replace the finance director's position which was left vacant when Glen Waring resigned in February to take a position with a school district in southern New Hampshire.
Commissioners said they have already filled a $45,199 accountant position that was created to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the assistant finance director, which came shortly after Waring resigned.
Commissioners said they have also selected a candidate for the accounting manager position who is extremely well qualified with experience both within the court system and health and services and that they need the funds to hire that person.
Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton), said that he had worked with the commissioners in the interview process and was satisfied that they had chosen the right person.
The management reserve fund was created by cutting $100,000 from the Finance Department budget with the provision that the commission, with Executive Committee approval, could fill the position either by hiring or contracting for the services.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that three months of the finance director's $84,050 salary had already been paid this year and that because of the budget cut the Finance Department budget was close to being exhausted.
The new positions will cost a total of $110,199 in salary, compared to $144,287 under the previous arrangement.
The committee also approved a transfer of $1,750 to pay for overtime in the housekeeping department at the Belknap County Nursing Home. It was explained that the shortage of part-time staff resulted in the need to pay overtime for full-timers to cover shifts.
The $250 budget for overtime had been over-expended by over 600 percent according to Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) because Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue believed that limits on transfers within departments mandated by a Belknap County Superior Court ruling were no longer in effect.
The committee heard from Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen on the subject of health insurance. She pointed out that the previous County Convention had required that elected department heads pay 15 percent of health insurance costs for family plans and 16.5 percent for individual plans.
She said that if she were allowed to shift her insurance to the site-of-service plan which is 100 percent funded by the county it would be less costly for the county, which contributes $8,468 to her higher priced plan and would only pay $8,000 for the site of service plan.
She said that her opting for a lower priced plan would be seen as a way of encouraging other county employees to utilize the same plan, lowering costs to the county and helping avoid the 40 percent "Cadillac tax" the county will face in 2018 for high cost insurance policies.
DeVoy said that the county faces a potential $150,000 tax liability in 2018 and said that every employee who enrolls in a site-of-service plane brings a $4,100 savings for the county.
After considerable discussion the Executive Committee took no vote on a change but members said they would not oppose a change to allow the elected department heads to switch to the site of service plan fully funded by the county if the commissioners approved.

Lifeguards needed for city beaches

LACONIA — With the city beaches scheduled to open on Saturday, June 27 the Parks and Recreation is scrambling to recruit the number of lifeguards required to ensure the safety of swimmers.

Deputy director of Parks and Recreation Amy Lovisek said each summer the department hires 13 lifeguards, who are assigned to Weirs Beach, Opechee Point Beach and Bond Beach. Neither Bartlett Beach nor the beach at Opechee Cove are staffed. Lovisek said that so far only six of the positions have been filled.

Lifeguards must be at least 15 years old and be certified. Lovisek said that the Laconia Athletic and Swim Club offers classes leading to certification. Lifeguards work between 32 and 40 hours, generally over five days between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., each week. Lifeguards are paid $9.01 per hour.

Applications for employment can be found on-line, at the city website. Under "departments", click "personnel", then "employment", then "job openings". For further information contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 524-5046.

Public or private? Gilford selectmen investigating handful of roads

GILFORD — Greg "Lucky" Lemay bought his home in 1976 and said when he purchased it, Emerson Road was a town road.

On Wednesday, he told the members of the Board of Selectmen, Public Works Director Peter Nourse and Highway Supervisor Brian DeNutte he'd like to keep it that way.

"This is too much road for me to maintain," said Lemay who noted that this is the third time he can recall the town has discussed discontinuing maintenance of Emerson Road.

Selectmen on Wednesday visited Lemay and residents of three other Class V roads that it is considering changing to Class VI private roads. The other three are Pinecrest Drive, which Town Administrator Scott Dunn said yesterday will definitely remain town-owned, Foxborough Drive and Wood Road.

Lemay said that his research in the Gilford/Gilmanton town annuls shows that Emerson Road may be the oldest road in the township. He said he lives in a home that was built in 1787 (when Gilford was still part of Gilmanton) that was originally built by Noah Weeks.

He said Noah Weeks was either a cousin or a brother to Ben Weeks who built Week's Farm on Belknap Mountain Road.

"They wanted to be close enough to visit but not close enough to bother," Lemay recounted reading.

He said the there are two parcels of land and he owns both of them. The one with his home is a 15-acre lot while across Emerson Road is a second 35-acre lot he uses as a small Christmas tree farm. The lots have never been merged.

There is a 25-foot horse trail that leads from the end of Emerson Road into the woods. Lemay believes that at one point in time it led to Weeks Farm as well as Merrymeeting Road, which remained in Gilmanton when Gilford broke away in 1804.

Lemay contends that when he and his wife bought their home, Emerson Road  was a public  and it's unlikely he would have purchased it if it was on a private road. He also said that his tax rate is based on the fact that he lives on a town-owned and -maintained road, which is reflected in his tax rate that has gone from about $1,000 in 1979 to $5,000 in recent years. The Christmas tree farm is in the "current use" tax shelter program.

He told selectmen that if the road ends up being his, he should get a commensurate tax break to compensate him for what it will cost him to maintain it. Emerson Road is about 75 yards long. At the end and in front of his home is a two-point turnaround used by Public Works employees in the winter. The town also grades it annually.

At Wednesday's selectman's meeting, John Scudder and Sylvia Nichols of Pinecrest Drive attended to learn the status of their road. Although selectmen had visited their road earlier in the evening, the two said they missed meeting with them.

Nichols said she was initially concerned that after reading The Daily Sun two weeks ago, she thought her road was going to be closed. Dunn encouraged her to call him if she ever had a question about something she read in the newspaper concerning the town.

After the meeting, Scudder said he thought the classification concerning Pinecrest Drive had been settled about 10 years ago.

Yesterday, Dunn told The Daily Sun the town paid some money to one of the homeowners on Pinecrest Drive as the result of a legal settlement. He also said Pinecrest Drive would remain public and will be maintained by the town.

Foxborough Drive is posted as private property with a no trespassing sign. There is a small turn-around just off Belknap Mountain Road but three long driveways lead to homes. Apparently the town plows the entire loop, including the posted portion.

Mayor suggests city taking action against man allegedly selling used cars without zoning OK

LACONIA — When the City Council met this week, Mayor Ed Engler said that the city is taking steps to address complaints about the continued sale of used cars at Gulbicki's Towing & Auto Repair on Weirs Boulevard, the substance of which will be disclosed within the next two weeks.

Engler spoke in response to Denis Bourque, the owner of nearby property at 1187 Weirs Boulevard. For the second time this month, Bourque told the councilors that the business has operated in violation of the zoning ordinance for more than a year with the knowledge of city officials, who have done nothing to stop it. Earlier this month Bourque told the council "I've gone to the city and have gotten little or no help."

In 2011, C.J. Gulbicki applied to the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a license to sell used cars at his father's repair shop. When the DMV asked if used car sales were permitted at the location, Planning Director Shanna Saunders assured the agency they were and Gulbicki was issued a license in February 2012.

However, the property lies in the Commercial Resort District where used car sales are only permitted by a special exception granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. When Saunders realized her mistake, she advised Gulbicki to apply for a special exception, which the ZBA ultimately denied. Last year the DMV notified Gulbicki his license would be revoked. At Gulbicki's request, Saunders intervened, asking the agency not to revoke his license since he was seeking to rectify the situation.

This week, when Bourque pressed City Manger Manager Scott Myers to explain why the city intervened on Gulbicki's behalf, he was told that Gulbicki had agreed to dispose of remaining inventory and curtail future sales. Myers also said that enforcement actions "are not always successful," prompting Bourque to reply "that's smoke and mirrors . . . I don't buy the answer."

Nevertheless, in March the DMV revoked Gulbicki's license. Gulbicki has indicated he has made arrangements to operate a used car lot at 248 South Main Street where it is permitted by the zoning ordinance. Meanwhile, Bourque insists that Gulbicki has continued to sell cars from the property on Weirs Boulevard with the use of a cell phone and the website Craigslist, transactions Gulbicki claims are "private sales".

This week Engler assured Bourque that enforcement actions are "underway". He said these steps cannot be discussed in public at this time, but urged Bourque to return in two weeks when an explanation of the measures would be forthcoming.