To The Daily Sun,
The Bureau of Justice since 2010 has awarded a total of $163,034. to the City of Laconia, a portion which, has been shared with the County.
What is perplexing is this most recent brouhaha regarding the latest JAG Grant for $14,641.00 has been awarded to the City of Laconia, overlooking the failures of required pre-application documentation.
Because the grant is a disparate grant, Belknap County was to receive "$3,000 for two mobile radar speed enforcement units." Laconia would have received "$11,085 for semi-automatic, 5.56 mm caliber urban patrol rifles for nine more police officers.
Clearly, the numbers do not add up. Moreover, $556 would not cover the administrative cost of reporting on this grant for the two new appropriation purposes for the city and county, the local governments involved.
In response to a request to the New Hampshire AG's Office, I was informed that this grant was awarded directly to the City of Laconia from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and such JAG Grants do not involve the New Hampshire Department of Justice in any way.
However, a memo to the city manager from the chief of police on Sept. 1 clearly states, "On June 26, 2015 the police department applied for a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) in conjunction with the Belknap Sheriff Department." The key word is "department" by virtue of being a grant applicant it shall be a local government, a taxing authority — to whit no department has such authority. These facts should have raised a red flag, yet the grant is reported as "awarded", but not accepted.
What is alarming is that the required memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two local governments regarding the 2015 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program award is; "this 28th day of September 2015," the day of the public hearing, the MOU that is required to be filed and included with the application back in June is authenticated by not one representative of local governments: "Craig H. Wiggin, Sheriff," Belknap County Sheriff's Department and David DeVoy, Belknap County Commission are simply elected officials, having no power to appropriate or levy a tax.
What is problematic is that the MOU lists five signature lines; two county officials — sheriff and commission, two city officials — chief of police, police commission. The only local governing body listed is the City Council. The latter three did not sign. Because this is a disparate grant, the other local government, the county is required to be a signatory.
Lastly, and most important authenticator of such an MOU is the City Council, which has not nor could it have signed after June 26, 2015, the date of the application filling. No signature line exists for the required disparate recipient local government, the county convention.
Moreover, no grant administrator is included in the MOU. An example of an MOU indicates the grant administrators are finance officers who are designated by a local government to file the application and administer the grant funds and report to the grantee over the two or four year span of a grant which span several fiscal years.
I sought after the grant application to review, but that has never been offered. Also, the JAG documentation is to be given to the local governing body's and made available to the public before either "public hearing" regarding the application for unexpected revenue.
Upon a review of the City Council previous minutes, it appears that an obscure line item has been added to the Annual Budget Resolution "Making itemized Appropriations for Anticipated Grants for the Fiscal Year Beginning June 2, _____ and Terminating June 30, ____ " No amounts are listed nor the grant solicitation numbers included.
Neither voters nor the City Council have been empowered by the New Hampshire Legislature compatible with Towns, RSA 31:95-b - Appropriation for Funds Made Available During Year. The Council shall comply with Charter Section 5:06 Appropriations After Budget is Adopted RSA 49-C: 23.
Thomas A. Tardif
- Category: Letters
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