To The Daily Sun,
Laconia's obstinate City Manager is determined to have appropriation powers to accept and encumber revenues for any purpose out of public view. See two public hearing notices that have no purpose or amount.
Neither public hearing had one person speak, pro or con, simply because the purpose or amount are unknown. The elected council's acceptance was unsupported by case law and voted based on a secret legal opinion. This is a violation of Article 39, part first, of the constitution of the state of New Hampshire.
If the Legislative intent of RSA 31:95-b were applicable, which it does not, it required a charter amendment to Sect. 5:06 Appropriations After Budget Is Adopted: "No appropriation shall be made for any purpose not included in the annual budget as adopted unless voted by 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." RSA 49-C 23.
An amendment is required: "No appropriation shall be made for any purpose not included in the annual budget as adopted unless voted by two-thirds majority of the council for unanticipated moneys in the amount of $10,000 or more, the city council shall hold a prior public hearing on the action to be taken. Notice of the time, place, and subject of such hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation at least seven days before the hearing is held." "(b) The city council may establish the amount of unanticipated funds required for notice under this subparagraph, provided such amount is less than $10,000. For unanticipated moneys in an amount less than such amount, the council shall post notice of the funds in the agenda and shall include notice in the minutes of the council meeting in which such moneys are discussed. The council shall by resolution designate the source of any money so appropriated. The acceptance of unanticipated moneys under this subparagraph shall be made in public session of any regular city council meeting." (RSA 49-C 23, RSA 31:95-b)
What is problematic for the city manager, the chief administrative officer of the city government, supervising the administrative affairs of the city, who shall enforce the charter, and all general laws applicable to the city not inconsistent with the provisions of the charter is that no language in RSA 31:95-b provides that "any city or town may adopt this section".
Moreover, the city manager is only empowered to propose the annual budget, a sum of all the individual line item appropriation. The city manager may propose a supplemental appropriation line item for council consideration. If by resolution the council so appropriated a sum of money for a specific purpose, the city manager is required to encumber the appropriation as takes place for the entire annual budget.
No law provides that the power to appropriate, which resides with the City Council, may be designated to the city manager.
Thomas A. Tardif