Published DateTo the editor,
The previous Belknap County Convention was hoodwinked into, a "non-meeting" with the COMMISSION'S Negotiation Committee, which was created to advise the commissioners and accordingly to negotiated on their behalf with the unions. Clearly the previous convention, at some point expressed support for the commission's intent regarding new employment agreements.
The new convention is not empowered to slash any pay raises or any other form of compensation. The contractual agreements resides with the Commission. An action by the convention to violate any contractual agreement will end up in litigation for Unfair Labor Practices.
What this convention can do is not appropriate the money to fund the negotiated raise. Why, because the contractual increases are not bases on the number of employees but per employee. No contract limits the number of employees and accordingly, in the event the amount appropriated by the appropriating authority based or revenues (property taxes) does not rise to the level to pay all existing employees, the number of employees shall be reduced, which unfortunately in recent years has taken place at the state level and private sector.
Belknap County does not have a Charter. Clearly, the commission believes it has a cart blanch, once the Grand Total Resolution by the convention is adopted, that is can and does transfer at will regardless of whether the individual line item appropriations are encumbered or unencumbered. Money is transfer to and from, sometimes adding unfunded purposes.
Hopefully, this new and truly conservative majority convention will seek legal advice from the DRA and AG regarding a previous DRA edict which states the Annual Grand Total Appropriation is the sum of all the individual Line Items which make up the total, Furthermore, all the individual line item appropriations are encumbered and until the encumbrance has been met, no money may be transferred unless unencumbered. Moreover, the only justification for transferring unencumbered money is to offset an individual line item which is anticipated to exceed its estimated expenditure. County commissioners absent a charter are not comparable to a town selectboard or city council, who do have charters.
This County Convention should get the job done on behalf of the taxpayers and not get caught up in the minutia of the blame game. Invoke RSA 24:14: "The county convention may require that the county commissioners obtain written authority from the executive committee before transferring any appropriation or part thereof under RSA 24:15."
Thomas A. Tardif