Published DateTo the editor,
Thank you for publishing the Jan. 29 letter from the county commissioners. As a "freshman lawmaker", it may be that I missed a nuance of county governance which seems to
be one of the points made by the gentlemen. Let me respond to the assertions which they make by stating the following facts:
1. The way to achieve co-operation is through transparency. Making incorrect accusations such as alleging a violation of State law 91-A could be construed as an attempt at
2. The commissioners now concede that the county convention has the authority to act as they did on Jan. 21 but argue the delegates were unwise and unknowledgeable in so doing. It is a fact that until now they have denied that the convention had this power and threatened legal action against the convention for taking the action which it did.
3. In no way has it been demonstrated that the actions of the convention were motivated by anything other than fiscal prudence. Far from wishing to balance the budget on the
backs of county employees, I stated in public session that I wish it were possible to give raises to the full-time employees who are hard working and not as well compensated as the
top two-thirds, The convention would like to see county employees who have good wages and generous benefits packages kept commensurate with the private sector which does not enjoy the same degree of compensation and benefits. Their taxes underwrite the compensation for county employees.
4. The surplus fund is large and growing.
5. Past budgets have consistently understated revenue and overstated expenditures.
The three legged stool which represents county governance can be summarized thusly: 1. centralized authority — something which the Jan. 21 action by the convention compromised; 2. a large and growing command structure which can be seen by comparing year to year budgets; 3. plans for a new and very expensive prison.
Contrary to the assertion of the commissioners, there has been no public input or cost justification for this prison project. Their committee of "stakeholders", which did the planning, did not include the public or any of the delegation.
The common thread is that there has been a lack of candor at 34 County Drive. The response of the delegation to the county commissioners stems from consideration of good public policy.
Most of us value the contributions of the hard working people in county employment.
Rep. Richard B. Burchell
Belknap Distriict 5