County commissioners call for separate votes on money requests

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners have written a letter to the Belknap County Delegation asking the delegation to hold separate votes on three different supplemental appropriation requests.
The most recent request is for a a $135,000 supplemental appropriation to meet an increase in the amount of money the county is being billed by the state to pay its share of the cost of private nursing home care for county residents.
The county had budgeted $6.207 million for the Health and Human Services budget line but was billed $6.343 million by the state's Department of Health and Human Services.
By statute, a supplemental appropriation request requires the delegation to hold a public hearing before it votes on the request. The delegation has not yet set a date for the hearing.
The other supplemental appropriation requests are for $136,500 to hire four corrections officers that are seen as essential by Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray to opening the new Community Corrections Center and $93,000 for the Sheriff's Department, which has recently cut two part-time positions and says it is hard-pressed to meet it's responsibilities in the area of court security, prisoner transport and hand delivery of court documents to individuals.
The Corrections Department and Sheriff's Department requests were bundled together in a $229,500 supplemental appropriation request that was rejected by a 7-7 tie vote of the delegation on May 22.
Commissioners have been pressing the delegation without success to reconsider that vote.
They renewed their appeal when they met with the delegation's executive committee Monday morning for a quarterly budget review. Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the commission would ask for three separate votes on the supplemental requests.
He said that without the funding for the additional correctional officers the county would not be able to open the the $8 million, 72-bed community corrections center. He said that unless the center opens as planned the county will have to transfer some of the prisoners to another facility.
DeVoy said that applications for $650,000 in federal grants for programs at the new corrections center have said that the county will abandon the attic and gymnasum areas in the old jail and that those grants are in jepardy unless that happens.
“The women have to be out of the gym by Aug. 15 or we won't be able to start work on renovating the existing jail,” said DeVoy. “We have a problem and a decision will have to be made in the month of July for us to continue.”
When asked by Rep. Peter Spanos (R-Laconia) if it would be possible to open the center by hiring two full-time and two part-time corrections officers Gary said it wouldn't work because he needs all four in order to cover each of the three daily shifts.
Executive Committee Chairman Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont) said that the language being used by those opposed to the budget changes made by the delegation were inaccurate as there were no cuts made from last year's totals. “A cut is not a cut if you're getting an increase,” he said
DeVoy said “You gave us $300,000 more than the previous year,” and has previously noted that the county's obligations rose by nearly a million dollars this year due to increases it had no control over.
He has been critical of the action of last year's delegation in reducing the amount to be raised by taxes by $605,000 to provide a tax cut when the delegation had been told that there were increases coming in this year's budget for the Corrections Department.
Commissioner Glen Waring (R-Gilmanton) said that projected surplus of $167,613 for this year's budget was unlikely to materialize, pointing out that it included $491,500 in grant money which might not materialize, creating a deficit of $323,887.
The budget adopted by the delegation also contained $290,810 in revenues which will not materialize as HB 413, which would have funded some of the retirement system costs for county workers, was not included in the state budget.
When Waring last week suggested that county commissioners transfer funds from the $466,000 grants line in the corrections department budget to pay for hiring four corrections department officers the idea was rejected by his fellow commissioners.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said that he couldn't support the idea. “It's like the Abear-Vadney budget and uses money that doesn't exist. You can't spend money that isn't there.”

City Council OKs $67.5M budget; police contract still to be settled

Ambulance contract also not set; spending on parks is increased


LACONIA — A blueprint for expenditures in the new fiscal year has won City Council approval, but a few funding questions remain, including the ultimate cost of a new contract for police officers and potential unanticipated expenses involving the Colonial Theatre refurbishment.

The City Council on Monday night passed a $67.5 million appropriation for the city, the county and the school district for the fiscal year that began July 1. The municipal portion of that is about $25 million.

Property taxes will go up 1.3 percent, or a $56 yearly hike for a $200,000 home.

One bit of spending still to be finalized is the cost of a new union contract for police officers. Council members rejected an initial proposed contract and negotiations are continuing on a new pact. The reason for the rejection was not clear as bargaining requirements preclude council members from talking publicly about labor contracts before they are approved.

City Manager Scott Myers said there will be adequate money in the new budget to cover police costs.

“We've got a bucket of money toward collective bargaining,” Myers said. “What we try to do for personnel costs, wages and benefits is to have an appropriate amount of money there to cover us if there is a contract or if there is not a contract.”

Another financial question involves the Colonial Theatre refurbishment. There is a chance the city could be asked to take a greater role in funding that project.

The City Council is to take up that subject next month.

“We're targeting the first meeting in August for that so stay tuned,” Myers said.

Also still to be finalized is a new ambulance service contract with LRGHealthcare. Myers has said he is confident the new contract can be handled within the Fire Department's new budget.

The overall budget approved by the City Council on Monday was very similar to one Myers proposed in April.

A few changes came in the form of spending on parks. This new spending included $40,000 to study erosion at city beaches, $35,000 for a new fence at Opechee Park, $25,000 for park basketball court improvements and $20,000 for a paved pathways through Opechee Park, connecting the Middle School campus with North Main Street.

Community comes together to assist Swain Farm patriarch


SANBORNTON — Food, fun, and fabulous auction items will be offered Saturday as the community gathers for a major fundraiser to assist for the head of the Swain Farm, who has suffered a stroke.

David Swain and his family have been active members of the Sanbornton community, and the outpouring of support has taken the form of a traditional Texas barbecue, live and silent auction, and other activities which will take place at the Old Town Hall Square at 19 Meetinghouse Hill Road from 2 to 6 p.m. on July 15.

Rock House BBQ is catering the event, which will feature brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage, pinto beans, and coleslaw. There also is a vegetarian option of black beans, rice, and vegetable.

Items that have been donated for the auction include tree work, home heating fuel, and septic pumping, as well as a candy basket, pies and cakes, and vacations.

Other activities include children’s games, cow patty bingo, tractor hayrides, live music, and a giant Jenga puzzle.

While tickets will be available on Saturday, organizers are asking for advance purchases to give Rock House BBQ an idea of how much food to prepare. The caterer is donating the food for the event.

Tickets and information are available from Melanie Van Tassel at 603-387-2931 and Justin Barriault at 581-9085.

 07 10 David Swain

Sanbornton residents will hold a fundraiser for David Swain on Saturday, July 15. (Courtesy Photo)