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Council can't 'contribute' $4k by transferring 'found' tax dollars

  • Published in Letters
To the editor,
According to an article in The Laconia Daily Sun on May 30 by Michael Kitch, "City Council adds $4k to fund used to buy new U.S. flags for downtown".
The article states the council agreed to apply "found money" to make a contribution to dress up the downtown. Councilor Bob Hamel was correct when he, "suggested that between the assistance provided by the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments the city had already contributed to the project and remarked that the council should have been informed of the project before the fact." But then he voted along with the rest of the council to "apply found money rather than draw from the TIF fund."
The City Charter is clear that an "appropriation" is for a specific purpose and amount, regarding an individual line item, the source of money is to be offset by comparable revenues. The sum of all the individual line items comprises the annual Grand Total Appropriation,.
The process for transfers are applicable for intra-department or inter-department but only after an encumbered appropriation is completed; unencumbered amounts are available for transfer to an existing line item.
When a "new purpose" that benefits the taxpayer funded municipal government; the charter is clear for such supplemental appropriations after the budget is adopted.
There is no specific appropriation line item listed in the FY2012/2013 annual budget regarding the Main Street Initiative, which is a private organization, for lining the streets with U.S flags and flowers. There cannot be a vote to "contribute" by transferring $4,000 to an unspecified line item "found" tax dollars. Just a month prior to the end of the fiscal year is unacceptable and is in violation of the City Charter.
"APPROPRIATIONS AFTER BUDGET IS ADOPTED. "No appropriation after the budget is adopted, shall be made for any purpose not included in the annual budget as adopted unless voted by a two-thirds majority of the council after a public hearing held to discuss said appropriation. The council shall by resolution designate the source of any money so appropriated" Emphasis added Section 5:06 (RSA 49-C:23) (Amended by referendum 11-2-2010, 3,334 yes, 1,235 no, effective 7-1-2011)
This City Council has been in office long enough to know and understand the Laconia City Charter and New Hampshire State Laws
David Gammon