To The Daily Sun,
Reading the news that four long term employees at the Belknap County Nursing Home were handed their walking papers brings to mind the cynical observation of Rahm Emanuel: "Never let a crisis go to waste."
In order to make the case that the 2014 county budget was inadequate, the administration imposed painful staff reductions in the hope that the resultant controversy would redound to the detriment of the convention and not to itself. The real story takes a bit more research. Anyone who compares the county executive staff of five years ago to today will have to concede that the administration has grown greatly in size and salaries. At the same time, some county departments are left with scant resources.
Even though the county was presented with evidence of the cost-effectiveness, and necessity, of adding correctional officers to the jail, the word has already been passed that those officers will not be hired. Incidentally, the salary and benefits for those additional officers were completely funded in the county budget led by a conservative core of Republican delegates. The chair of the convention stated publicly that it was a primary goal to make the jail a priority when crafting this year's budget. In union with the commissioners, the Democrats voted for a budget which did not include this needed jail staff.
The Belknap commissioners have vented their spleen in a most unfortunate way. Their anger at a convention that was determined to take its Chapter 24 responsibilities seriously has resulted in unnecessary layoffs. While the public will be able to cast its vote this fall for a new direction for the county, it is greatly too bad that the current slate of
commissioners retains the power to so distress the lives of hard-working people. With specific reference to the nursing home and jail, the commissioners should take another look at their responsibilities and chart a different course.
Rep. Dick Burchell