To The Daily Sun,
As concerned taxpayers we feel it necessary to comment upon the recent public discussions regarding the 2017 Belknap County budget process. First of all, Belknap County taxpayers should be delighted with the open format and transparent approach initiated by Chairman Rep. Herb Vadney, who began the review process in early January. This year he opened up the discussion so that each state representative, county commissioner, and all department heads could all be a part of the detailed review discussions at each meeting. Nice approach, Mr. Delegation Chair.
Next, the Vice Chairman Rep. Raymond Howard recently offered a tentative spending proposal suggestion for discussion after hearing many budget requests from others. His suggestion is to consider a budget, which represents an increase of about 4 percent over actual spending in 2016 to fund county needs. This helps to protect the taxpayers' pocketbooks and moves the budget forward. Nice job, Mr. Vice Chairman.
On the other side of the discussion, the two tax-and spend-commissioners, Chairman DeVoy and Clerk Taylor, want more and more and even more. For example it is reported in the local newspaper that these two compulsive spenders will soon be asking for approximately $136,000 more in proposed budget line spending. This is on top of their original massive spending increases previously reported. Honey, hold on to your wallet! Someone call the sheriff or Houston. We have a problem.
Ladies and gentlemen, like in the Washington, D.C., process, leadership is seriously lacking at this county management level, in this case with these two commissioners. For Chairman DeVoy to say, "The knife is not going to be in my hand. You guys are going to have to make that decision on what to cut" borders on clear incompetence. It also moves the discussion in a violent direction which is unprofessional and wrong. Stop blaming everyone else (federal government, delegation, insurance companies, etc.) commissioner, and look squarely in the mirror.
The qualities needed for military rank acquisition and for leadership in the private sector seen to be very different. You are the CEO for spending and please start taking this fiduciary responsibility seriously.
The difficulty (here, like in Washington) is the code word "savings," which is used very freely. To the "tax and spend" commissioners, savings meaning we raise the proposal up to an unrealistic number, reduce it slowly and keep the spending higher than the previous year, and by golly we have savings. No we don't. We have more spending coded as savings. Try the word investment next time from the code book it represents another spending strategy.
For example, when the delegation approved a bond issue for the new Community Corrections Center in November 2015 and interest rates on borrowing were at their historic low no action was taken by the two commissioners on locking in a fixed bond to protect the taxpayers. Instead the philosophy was let's build first on an interest-only loan and bond in the future. Okay, the only problem is interest rates on borrowing have risen twice since then and most knowledgeable financial advisers see that trend of higher rates continuing, thus higher borrowing costs once a decision is finally made. Based on this faulty logic now you the taxpayers may get the opportunity to pay interest twice on the same funds. A bit like a credit card with payments of interest only, but you still owe money you spent.
Another recent example of the lack of leadership by the two tax-and-spend commissioners is one week they report a low number of $250,000 of operational savings from the previous year budget and a week later they proudly announce a higher number of $850,000 in additional savings as managers of public funds. Do you know what you are doing gentleman? If not, consider a sunny retirement?
We hope the full delegation will carefully examine both the revenues and spending requests in the proposed 2017 county budget and follow the advice of a member from Gilford who said, "...he won't support any increase in county taxes."
We know the delegation will do the right thing for the people of Belknap County without hurting us.