Published DateTo the editor,
On February 4, the Belknap County Executive Committee (EC) convened a noticed meeting. The chair of the convention stated the law required the committee to elect its officers. By a show of hands, they voted; Representatives Tilton - chair, Greenmore – vice-chair and Vadney - clerk; the first election to have ever taken place.
Then the brouhaha about Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) took place. Without being recognized, the county administrator stated the Executive Committee had to approve a TAN, the borrowing of money per RSA 29:8, as the county will run out of money by the end of March. What was not said is the convention had until 31st of March to adopt its budget. The new EC chairman questioned why TANs had to be voted right then, without public notice, also demanding to know how much? The deliberation went on for some time about the $10,000,000 borrowing. Ultimately, the EC's motion to allow the treasurer to borrow up to $10 million passed. This was all done without the required commission approval for the treasurer to borrow the $10 million.
After the Executive Committee adjourned, and prior to the convention meeting, the commission meeting took place. Commissioner Philpot addressed the convention, stating the commission had to issue its order before the convention votes. In spite of a quorum being present; a conference call was made to John Thomas, chairman, and by majority vote, the commission ordered the Treasurer to borrow up to $10,000,000. The treasurer and rinance officer responded to convention questions, but the convention took no action. The cart came before the horse and fell off track.
The Right-to-Know requires 24 hour notice for a public meeting. The two meeting notices were: a. Executive Committee Meeting 4:30 PM - Conference Room #1; b. "Delegation / Commissioners Public Meeting" 5:00 PM — County Complex.
Clearly, no notice exists for a joint meeting with the Executive Committee/Commission at 4:30 PM. Therefore, the required order by the commission that the treasurer borrows up to $10 million did not exist when the Executive Committee voted to authorize the borrowing.
29:8 Borrowing — "... the treasurer, upon the order of the commissioners with the approval of the executive committee of the county convention, and such approval shall not be given until the treasurer has appeared in person before the committee to testify in support of any such request, may borrow such sum as they shall deem necessary for the purpose, ..., the approval of the county convention for such excess borrowing must be secured, unless the convention has not acted upon the appropriations for the ensuing year."
A "Historical Tax Anticipation Report from 2005 to 2013, attached to the Convention/Delegation agenda packet is not indicative to the facts and is problematic as to the legitimacy of TANs since 2010. The minutes /process for TANs since 2010 are as follows:
1. On March 4, 2010, "The County Treasurer has come before the Executive Committee per RSA 29:8 to seek authorization to borrow up to $14 million in anticipation of taxes for calendar year 2010" The Executive Committee affirmed the borrowing. Because the convention had not adopted its 2010 Annual Budget, Convention approval need not be secured and was not requested.
2. On April 6, 2011, "... The Treasurer is requesting to borrow in Tax Anticipation Notes up to $10 million." The commission approved the request.
This joint meeting was then turned over to the Executive Committee. A Motion "to authorize the Commissioners to Authorize the Treasurer to borrow up to $10 million in Tax Anticipation Notes." Motion Carried.
What is problematic is that on March, 14 2011, the convention had adopted the ensuing 2011 Annual budget. Therefore, the approval of the county convention for such excess borrowing must be secured. No recorded convention vote exists, a fatal flaw.
3. On April, 9 2012, the Executive Committee motioned "to authorize the County Treasurer to borrow up to $10 million in anticipation of taxes" Motion carried.
What is problematic is that on March, 20 2011, the convention adopted the ensuing 2012 annual budget. Therefore, the approval of the county convention for such excess borrowing must be secured. No recorded convention vote exists, a fatal flaw
On February 4, 2013, the commissioners approval of the treasurer's request to borrow $10 million dollars came after the committee voted. A fatal flaw. Then, the TAN $10 million borrowing deliberation was repeated a second time with the convention — which is not even required because, "the convention's approval must only be secured had the convention adopted the 2013 county budget, which is clearly still under consideration. What parts of the borrowings were done correctly? Can the Treasurer legally borrow the money this time?
Thomas A. Tardif