Published DateTo the editor,
Okay, I admit it, until recently I wasn't paying close attention to how county government works. I knew that a portion of my taxes went to running county services, saving money by consolidating services that would cost more if each town had to provide them, like nursing home care, county attorney, sheriff, jail, etc.
Because of great reporting and letters to the editor, I have recently learned about the role of the County Convention, the folks we elected to represent us in Concord. I thought their role at the county level was to provide an extra level of oversight over the county budget. Was I wrong?
I, for one, did not send representatives to Concord to slash the budget proposed by the County Commissioners, the ones we actually elected to run the county, or to wreak havoc on the budgetary process. But that is what is happening here in Belknap County, to the great consternation of many.
I understand that many folks were upset by the budget the commissioners originally proposed, even though it came after years of shrinking the size of county government, even though the proposed increase would have been about $25 for the average household, and even though it preserved the high quality of services for which Belknap County is known. So now the commissioners have agreed to use some of the fund balance to reduce the amount that has to be raised by taxes.
The new proposal, however, is not acceptable to the Republican majority of the County Convention. That majority wants to reduce the original proposal by about the same amount as the commissioners do, but on the backs of the county employees, with indiscriminate and possibly illegal cuts.
Given a choice between the commissioners' modified proposal and theirs, why would the Republican majority choose to slash and burn? I believe it's because they ARE the majority at the county level, therefore they CAN. Frustrated by being in the minority in Concord, they want to wield their power somewhere, no matter the human cost. In so doing, they demonstrate that they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
The nursing home employee who cares for our family member or neighbor, the officer who watches over a mentally ill person because there are no psychiatric beds available, these and so many other county employees add value to our community. The county budget should not be balanced on their backs, especially when another option exists.
The vote on the county budget is scheduled for the next meeting, Monday March 4 at 5 p.m. at the County Complex. Please come to show what you value!