To The Daily Sun,
One again it was made clear that the taxing/appropriation authority reside with the Belknap County Convention. It should have been clear that once the delegation member voted its resolution for the 2017 grand total resolution by a majority vote of 10 or more of the 18 members that the budget process was over.
The brouhaha over Belknap County's annual grand total appropriation appears to have come to an end, but has it really? The fact is, in the absence of a "county charter" or "booklet" to assist newly elected legislative delegation members or the public, it is difficult to understand county government. Till such time as one or the other is adopted or implemented the rule of law shall be complied with.
The county operates under a delegation (legislative branch consisting of 18 elected representatives) form of government and provides services as authorized by state statue. The three-member board of commissioners is the executive branch.
The commissioners (as mandated by N.H. Statute RSA 28) are part-time elected officials responsible for overall supervision, custody and care of all county departments, buildings and land, and have budgetary oversight of all county expenditures. They are elected into staggered four and two-year terms by the voters of the districts each are assigned to. The annual county budget is prepared by the commissioners and departments heads and submitted to the county convention for final approval.
Three elected commissioners, with appointments of an administrator, assistant administrator, accounting manager and accountant to assist the part-time commissioners, administer the county budget as annually resolved by the county delegation.
The commission is authorized to approve intra-departmental transfer requests and inter-departmental transfers (from one department to another) or transfers regarding the contingency account shall be approved by the executive committee of the delegation.
Repeated misconceptions include: 1. A "quorum" of any "public body" is a simple majority. The "commission" is two of its three statutory members; The convention/delegation is 10 of the statutory 18 members (not to be misinterpreted as members present); 2. The notice requirement for the commission is governed by RSA 91-A:2, II; The notice requirements for the convention/delegation are RSA 91-A:2, II and RSA24:9-d; 3. The law makes no provision for reconsideration of the convention vote on the annual grand total appropriation. The fact is the 2016 commission delivered the 2017 itemized recommendations on Dec. 2, 2016.
The county commissioners shall deliver or mail to each member of the county convention who will be in office on the date that appropriations are voted and to the chairperson of the board of selectmen in each town and the mayor of each city within the county and to the secretary of state "prior to December 1 annually" their itemized recommendations of the sums necessary to be raised for the county in the year next ensuing, stating therein in detail the objects for which the money is required, together with a statement of actual expenditures and income for at least nine months of the preceding calendar year.
All moneys to be appropriated by the county must be stipulated in the budget on a "gross'' basis, showing revenues from all sources, including grants, gifts, bequests and bond issues, as offsetting revenues to appropriations affected. 24:21-a Budget Estimates. – RSA 24:9-a. III.
No county convention shall vote appropriations for the ensuing budget period until 28 days shall have elapsed from the mailing of such recommendations. In counties which are not on an optional fiscal year basis pursuant to RSA 31:94-a, appropriations for the first year of each biennium may not be voted until after the first meeting of the county convention under RSA 24:9-a. RSA 24:25 Penalty. Failure to comply with the requirements of RSA 24:21-24 shall constitute prima facie evidence of a violation of RSA 643:1. RSA 643:1
Official Oppression: A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if, with a purpose to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he "knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office; or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office."
I. Appropriations by the county convention shall be itemized in detail and a record thereof shall be kept by the clerk of the convention. The executive committee of the county shall have authority to review the expenditures of the county after adoption of the county budget. Such review may occur as often as voted by the executive committee, but no less than twice each year. The convention may require the county commissioners to report once each quarter to the convention or to the executive committee the expenditures of the county as compared to the budget as voted, in such detail as determined by the convention. The county convention may require that the county commissioners obtain written authority from the executive committee before transferring any appropriation or part thereof under RSA 24:15. The county convention may adopt a policy regarding the acceptance of grants.
I-a. In this chapter, an appropriation means an amount of money authorized for a specified purpose by the legislative body.
II. The county convention shall adopt the annual budget within 90 days after the beginning of the county's fiscal year if the county operates on a calendar year basis. 1. If the county convention does not adopt the annual budget by the time specified, the budget, as recommended by the commissioners, shall take effect as the county budget. (RSA 24:14)
Clearly, lacking a county charter or booklet to assist the public or elected officials has resulted in violations of laws. No provision allows the commission to reconsider its proposed budget, they missed the deadline. No law provides that the delegation adoption of the county annual budget within the 90 day period may reconsider its vote for the purpose of amending to increase or decrease. If the commission or department head have issues with the adopted budget, the venue it is the executive committee of the county shall have authority to review the expenditures of the county after adoption of the county budget. The remaining process is to increase the grand total appropriation through a supplemental appropriation, which requires valid documented justification.
Thomas A. Tardif
- Category: Letters
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