To The Daily Sun,
During the organizational assembly, the newly elected Belknap County Delegation chair, held a public hearing and then expected the public to comment having only hours to absorb all the individual line item that comprises the grant total annual budget. What continues to be problematic are county notices do not meet the law.
The notices that must be published in the newspaper cannot be in The Daily Sun. The Sun's circulation does not include the Town of Barnstead, which disenfranchises the taxpayers, citizens and voters of Barnstead. This is coupled with the ongoing failure to comply with the seven-day notice requirement. Moreover, the delegation did not mail or deliver to the chairperson of the board of selectmen in each town and the mayor of each city within the county and to the secretary of state prior to Dec. 1, 2016, the annual itemized recommendations of the sums necessary to be raise for the county for FY 2017, Jan. 1, to Dec. 31. (RSA 24:21-a)
Furthermore, while visiting the Secretary of State's Office, I reviewed the Belknap County "Board of Commissioners," cover letters listing the commission's recommended $28,034,331 buget, an amount agreed to after the brouhaha during which the commissioner's appointed attorney, suggested the commission could submit three different proposed budgets if it wanted to. This was reported in The Daily Sun.
The date on the letter to the Secretary of State's office is Dec. 2 and it was received Dec. 5, once again missing the deadline, which clearly defaulted. This question is now in the hands of the secretary of state.
What are most alarming is the FY 2015 and 2016 county commissioners encumbered/spent funds from Jan. 1, 2015 to the date in March when the delegation voted its grand total annual budget for FY 2015. The commission continued this practice from Jan. 1, 2016, to the date in March pending the delegation vote of the grand total annual budget for FY 2016.
Clearly, in the absence of FY 2015 and FY 2016 budgets, which were approved by the delegation in March of these fiscal years, all expenditures by commissioners incurred in the absence of the grand total annual appropriation are violations of RSA 24:15, I -Exceeding Appropriations ("No county commissioner, or elected or appointed county officer, shall pay, or agree to pay, or incur any liability for the payment of, any sum of money for which the county convention has made no appropriation."
What must immediately be addressed by the newly organized delegation (2017-18) is how the newly elected county commissioners will comply with all applicable laws, from Jan. 1 to the date of this delegation's FY 2017 annual budget is resolved.
Neither habitude nor ignorance in the law is any excuse for Belknap County appointed or elected official to violate the law. The greater question is who would dare enforce these laws?
Thomas A. Tardif