To The Daily Sun,
The letter in the Jan. 19 Sun from a Belknap County commissioner purports to show that the county budget is insufficient to meet the needs of governance.
Despite Mr. Taylor's prior claims that commissioners do not allocate money, he has been a consistent advocate for higher spending. What is more, the policies which he has advanced result in additional expense. These policies do not always track on a public radar screen and the local newspaper is inept at reporting them. After all, developing an insightful report on policy is more difficult and less scintillating than playing to personality differences.
Early in the 2015-16 biennium, the commission was presented with a request for the formation of a fourth union. I was against recognizing this union for multiple reasons, the most salient of which was that it could easily be contested before the Public Employees Labor Relations Board.
To have a union, there must be at least six people who have a commonality of interest. Since this union was comprised of a half dozen departments, none of which had as many as six eligible employees, it was my opinion that the county could successfully challenge its authenticity. My objection was overridden by a 2-to-1 vote, and county citizens are stuck with this costly vote.
In 2014, I sat on a personnel committee which found by a preponderance of the evidence that the county administrator had been untruthful in her vendetta against the nursing home director. Nonetheless, in 2015 my fellow commissioners decided on a system wherein all county departments were channeled through this administrator. When Mr. DeVoy and Mr. Taylor, very unfairly in my opinion, decided that this approach was a failure and that the responsibility for that failure rested with the nursing home director, they voted to dismiss him. A lengthy and expensive legal process ensued which resulted in a financial settlement from the county's insurer. These expenses never saw the light of day but they are reflected in the insurance rates which the county must pay.
The commissioners have insisted on payroll being prepared internally despite the fact that utilizing an outside company would result in a savings of about two-thirds. Further, having asked many times why the county runs MUNIS software, expensive to lease and expensive to train people to run, the answer always was very vague. Benefits from using MUNIS have never been clearly described. Nonetheless, the commissioners plow ahead with funding requests to support this system.
My opinion of county management was and is that no one can possess the expertise needed to effectively run departments as diverse as the County Attorney's Office, Restorative Justice, Corrections, Sheriff's Office, Registry of Deeds and the Nursing Home. To place day-to-day trust in county operations in one administrator is to: 1. concentrate power in the hands of someone who is in a position to abuse that trust; 2. reduce the accountability which belongs to county commissioners. This system has resulted not only in poor financial accountability but unwarranted administrative expense.
In sum, the county commissioners manage matters as they see fit, which in this case is through a very highly paid administrator. I believe that they should re-examine their basic assumptions before clamoring for the need for an increase in spending.
Gilmanton Iron Works
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