To The Daily Sun,
Mr. Tardif's letter to The Laconia Daily Sun raises interesting points about the Belknap County budget process. I do wish that he had availed himself of more information from people who were directly involved in casting a proposed budget by county commissioners.
The same county administrator has been in place for some eight years. She did not know the date by which the county budget, commissioners' version, must be promulgated. The sluggish start to review of projected year-end balances by line items and to forecasts for 2017 was compounded by dated and incorrect department totals and was marked by a plodding pace by the commissioners.
County delegates cannot mail the proposed budget to towns and cities that which they have not received. Mr. DeVoy and Mr. Taylor, by a 2-to-1 margin, passed a proposed budget on Dec. 2 which purported to raise taxes on the order of 2.3 percent. Since there were many iterations of the proposed budget, this percentage is an approximation. This budget was passed on to the state Department of Revenue Administration. DRA replied almost at once with the news that the aforementioned county administrator had added in a $1,775,000 drawdown from the county fund balance, not once, but twice.
This chain of events made another meeting of the commissioners and another proposed budget a necessity. That meeting happened on Dec. 5 and initially resulted in a tie vote of 1-1-1. A local reporter attended this meeting and made much of the initial vote but failed to even mention the preceding events. By the expediency of Mr. DeVoy granting Mr. Taylor two more county personnel and "paying" for them by a further drawdown from fund balance, a budget resulting in a 6.3 percent tax increase was agreed upon by a vote of 2 to 1. Of course, this budget has been described as very slim.
I would object to placing blame on the county delegates for overspending by commissioners. Right through the Dec. 21 meeting, the commissioners approved, on 2 to 1 votes, transfer requests for lines which were already in the negative. These are each misappropriations and are violations of the law but the blame does not accrue to the county delegation unless they approve them.
The Belknap County Delegation and its Executive Board are struggling to do the job to which they were elected.
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