To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to the citizens of Belknap County:
We are very concerned about the budgetary process that has been directed by Rep. Worsman and staunchly followed by a majority of the Belknap County Delegation. The majority of this biennium's delegation is acting without regard to your need for county services or fiscal responsibility.
As a reminder, these services include the Nursing Home, Department of Corrections, County Attorney, Sheriff's Department, and Registry of Deeds. There are other services provided by the county as well. In order to coordinate these services and to manage the $60 million that flows through the county each year and over 260 employees, we employ finance, human resources, administrative, and facility professionals.
You have elected the commissioners to manage this organization, to provide stewardship over county assets and infrastructure, and to do this in the most efficient and effective means possible. We are constantly mindful of the tax burden on county citizens. We meet with your town and city officials regularly to keep them updated and informed about county business and to explore new ways of working together to make your tax dollars go further. We welcome and encourage your participation at all of our meetings. (Check www.belknapcounty.org for dates and times.)
There has been a lot of bad information carelessly stated and left unchallenged. We have relentlessly followed a strategically managed plan for consolidating and optimizing the provision of county services, maintaining the facilities, and reducing the tax burden. This has been successful and beneficial.
The current delegation (These are the members of the N.H. House of Representatives from Belknap County. You elected them to represent your interests in the state political process.) under the guidance of Rep. Worsman, seeks to undermine all of the thoughtful work that has been put in place and to blindly and arbitrarily cut taxes. The fact is that the county is spending no more than was spent in 2008 to operate and provide quality services. The commissioners have accomplished this by careful dialogue with professional managers — year round, on a bi-weekly basis.
If the commissioners' recommended budget were adopted the average county tax rate would go up by 5 cents. That means that if your home is assessed for $300,000 you will pay an additional $16 in taxes. This is not desirable, but necessary if we are to continue providing the same level of services.
The county has contractual obligations that must be paid. We have identified these and the associated costs, only to have Representative Worsman "thank us for our input." Your representatives are acting without any regard for legal ramifications, which will only result in you having to spend more money on legal defense and ultimately paying the original cost plus fines. Rep. Worsman refuses to be held accountable for any of consequences that she has had to listen to. In fact, trying to speak at her meetings has proven quite difficult. The convention has adopted no rules of order, and therefore they often appear to be crafted and/or changed as Rep. Worsman deems necessary.
We encourage you to attend one (or more) of these meetings to see the representation you are getting. There are serious and financial implications to managing the county. The delegation's primary job at the county is to provide a reasonable and responsible level of funding. Considering their lack of participation in county affairs, you would think they'd be interested in hearing from the people responsible for the outcomes, and perhaps those of you who pay the bills.
Belknap County Commissioners
John H. Thomas, Chairman
Edward D. Philpot Jr., Vice Chairman
Stephen H. Nedeau, Clerk