To The Daily Sun,
When we wrote, in our letter published here on March 8, to thank state Rep. Abear (R, Gilford, Meredith) and other state reps. for opposing Rep. Howard's county budget proposal, we assumed he was acting to protect the residents of Belknap County and the services they rely on to live healthy, productive lives. We were wrong.
Instead, on Friday, March 10, Rep. Abear proposed — and his colleagues passed — a budget far more harmful to Belknap County than Rep. Howard's, a feat we did not believe was possible.
To take from the sheriff a deputy, a dispatcher, overtime and special operations funding is foolhardy at best and will make it difficult for the sheriff to respond to emergencies in an efficient fashion. The cuts to the Corrections budget put staffing for the new corrections facility in jeopardy without adequate staff or activity allowances. Will Abear's budget cause this new facility to stand empty?
Funding Genesis Behavioral Health, Child Advocacy and Belknap County Economic Development Council at $1 will deprive Belknap County residents of critical services at a time when demand for mental health support is surging, children are being adversely impacted by parents' substance abuse disorders, and the need to attract employers and jobs to our area is of extreme importance.
Cutting the Belknap County Conservation District by $20,000 will make it close to impossible for them to carry out their mission of overseeing soil and watershed projects, donating food products through NH GLEANS and maintaining food production capacity in the county.
Dropping $13,000 from the Community Action Program is short-sighted and misguided. While, luckily, Meals on Wheels will continue, other critical programs will cease to exist.
Removing an activity aide at the nursing home means our seniors will have to choose between off-site visits to the region's attractions and on-site therapeutic recreation.
We strongly protest adoption of the Abear budget and fear for the impact on Belknap County taxpayers. With the alleged goal of not raising taxes, there will be consequences. The missing services will have a fiscal impact on Belknap County towns, one way or another, be it postponing the community justice program, cutting back on nursing home services, the inability to promote economic growth, or eliminating the ability to respond to people in mental health or substance abuse crisis.
We stand by our "thank you" to Reps. Fields, Fisher, Huot, Lang and Spanos for continuing to resist these deep cuts, and add one to Rep. Lang for his repeated attempts to restore numerous of the painful cuts at Monday night's meeting.
Belknap County Commissioners DeVoy, Taylor and Waring put forward a budget that met the needs of the county in a humane and fiscally responsible fashion; it is a shame the delegation put politics ahead of the best interests of Belknap County residents.
Former State Reps.