To The Daily Sun,
In response to Mr. Blais, his letter seems a bit of an oxymoron. I personally agree that the county administrator should probably go. That is just my perception, but Mr. Blais fails to examine what he cites as the "insane employment contract" for the county administrator. He fails to recognize the situation as to where she was initially hired out of. Was not the last county administrator let go over some issues of embezzlement? That is a pretty clear case for dismissal but if you are working inside a very politicized situation you may seek better job security measures in your contract.
The county administration has a contract that is likely full of clauses that make dismissing her simply for not being a weasel impractical. That is not meant in any demeaning way per se, only that a good administrator who is not an elected official should bend over backward to serve the agendas of the elected officials who direct the county's business. But when the agendas of the elected officials change when the political party in charge changes and is perhaps not in accordance with what has been, the administrator may not be as effective as we could hope for. Nevertheless it is not likely that we can have the county administrator ousted just because we don't like them as much as we would like a weasel.
So it is that contract referred to as "that insane (employment) contract" that is likely going to do just as Mr. Blais suggests at the end of his letter, that is going to get the taxpayers forking over to "stinking lawyers" should the county commissioners decide they want to dismiss the county administrator. Besides, what she is already by contract guaranteed in severance there would be the legal actions where in the end the county would owe "something more" for the supposed unfair labor practice, alleged wrongful discharge, and damages to the administrator's reputation and career.
So as long as we are not disgusted enough with the county administrator perhaps working in "sullen compliance" of the county commission's agendas to want to pay what it will likely actually cost to remove her, then we might be better off financially awaiting her seeking an improved position somewhere else.
Rep. Burchell is very correct that the county continues to have very serious legacy cost issues with county government. If the county commission would also focus on pension reform down in Concord some of those serious problems posed by hiring additional county jail staff and nursing home help might be ameliorated. As it is, we cannot pay 20 percent annual compounding increases to county employee pension contributions with the needle barely budging on NHRS funding vs the current near $2.8 billion-plus underfunding and then compete in the workplace for licensed and certified labor, unable for those costs to offer better take-home pay.
Most of these workers are required to do training for license renewals. Both the costs of the training and the costs of the re-licensing have to be borne. Too often the qualified workers in health care are looking for a paycheck they can live better on today and do not see those generous pensions and pension costs as worth enduring lower wages for. This is especially true if they have worked long enough to be owed a state pension. If you have 30 years as,Mr. Blais cites, why would you not retire before the inevitable pension reform, and take a similar or even lower-pay job someplace else without pension benefits? A net pay increase.
The wealthy will always be with us and they can afford more costly nursing home care. Those employers, without providing defined benefit pensions, can offer much better take-home pay to health care professionals.
You can explain total benefit packages to public employees of 7 percent to 9 percent as being unsustainable. But they do not care about those explanations, they just want more money in their take-home pay to pay their costs of living today. Last November we got "a clean sweep" of the Belknap County Commission membership. Maybe it just needs some time for the two new sides to work out some compromises. The situation today in our costs of Belknap County government is in fact much improved from that before the last election.
The state is facing the same issues on pay for state workers. Business and jobs are leaving the state. New Hampshire and Belknap County are going to continue facing increasing structural costs for government with less revenue as long as economic growth is stymied. I believe all of our county commissioners and the commission at large understand this and are going to work towards finding the solutions.