Published DateTo the editor,
The post and pre-election political diatribe regarding Belknap County Convention is not justified or deserved, but not unexpected. Laws are not obscure regarding county PUBLIC BUSINESS. Clearly, the Right-to-Know is the law which keeps the public apprised of the actions of the elected official.
Other laws such as county appropriation laws require the commissioners to propose a budget. After the convention resolution of its annual budget or supplemental budgets, other laws require the commissioners to administer the individual appropriation for the individual purposes, annually.
Nothing is obscure regarding RSA 24:14, I — Appropriations by the county convention shall be itemized in detail and a record thereof shall be kept by the clerk of the convention. The executive committee of the county shall have authority to review the expenditures of the county after adoption of the county budget. Such review may occur as often as voted by the executive committee, but no less than twice each year. The convention may require the county commissioners to report once each quarter to the convention or to the executive committee the expenditures of the county as compared to the budget as voted, in such detail as determined by the convention. 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. The county convention may adopt a policy regarding the acceptance of grants.
I-a. In this chapter, an appropriation means an amount of money authorized for a specified purpose by the legislative body.
To invoke provisions in the law requiring the county commissioners to obtain written authority from the executive committee before transferring any appropriation or part thereof under RSA 24:15 should be commended. Enforcement of laws that habitually have been considered below the historical strong commission verses the weak conventions is not usurping control.
Why has the 2013/14 convention taken action to introduce the long needed checks and balance? Back on December 06, 2010 the newly elected delegation held the convention's organizational meeting. At that meeting, following the election of officer and executive committee at-large officers, a presentation by the commission of its proposed budget for FY 2011/12 took place. No record of a "Public Hearing" is recorded.
On 20 December 2010, "the chairman (Rep. Alida Millham) reviewed the Right-to-Know Law and asked everyone to read it. Everyone understood the open, public process that will be followed."
On 14 March 2011 convention meeting re: Public Hearing on 2011 Belknap County Budget: "Rep. Accornero then asked the commissioners if they planned to do whatever they want with the stimulus money regardless of what the delegation says? He demanded a Yes or No answer. Commissioner Philpot responded by saying that they have different jobs (delegation and commissioners). It is the commissioners job to manage the affairs of the county and the day to day operations and they will not delegate that responsibility. It is what they are elected to do. The commissioners need to do their job and the delegation needs to do it's."
"Rep. Accornero followed up by again saying that the commissioners just give the delegation the budget and then they say that they will do what they want anyway. Commissioner Thomas reminded him that the commissioners have statutory responsibilities and there are statutory responsibilities of the delegation."
The line in the sand was drawn, hence began the frustration of the 2011/12 convention and the current 2013/14 convention.
No elected official shall set themselves above the Law.
Thomas A. Tardif