To The Daily Sun,
WGIR reports that a Belknap County budget crisis may impact county employee paychecks. Letters to the Editor claim various impacts because of the budget crisis. Unfortunately some people are confused and don't realize that the blame for this crisis is exclusively that of the Belknap County Commissioners.
The Belknap County Delegates did their job. They assessed the responsibilities of the Belknap County Government, its financial status and requirements, their responsibilities to taxpayers, employees, and citizens, the projected county revenues, and the budget offered by the County Commissioners. Based on their assessment, the Delegation felt it was necessary to exercise their constitutional authority and responsibility to modify the budget proposed by the commissioners. (Budget creation and/or modification and approval is a typical responsibility of the legislatures in representative governments.)
The commissioners, however, didn't want to be constrained by the legal budget passed by the delegation. And, since the commissioners controlled the county checkbook, they spent the taxpayers' money as they wished, illegally moving money from line item to line item, without approval of the delegation. Then they hired lawyers (paid with county taxpayers' money) to provide legal opinions to try to justify their refusal to follow the legally approved budget.
The court dismissed the legal opinions that the commissioners' sought in hopes of bullying the delegation into surrendering their legal and constitutional responsibilities to control the budget. Now line items from which money was illegally taken are running out of money.
The delegation has responded quickly, to continue operations and pay employees, to make up for the commissioners' mismanagement of the budget and illegal spending.
For two years the Belknap County Commissioners and their supporters created a very antagonistic environment in attempt to bully the delegation into abdicating their legal and constitutional responsibilities. The commissioners and their special interest supporters wanted budgets that would force significant current tax increases and would force large additional increases in the future for the $42 million jail with its greatly increased operational expenses.
This budget crisis has impacted delivery of county services, tarnished Belknap County's reputation throughout New Hampshire, and jeopardized employee paychecks. This budget crisis is a direct result of the Belknap County Commissioners' illegal actions.