To The Daily Sun,
I am asking for your support to remain a county commissioner for another two years. Although the last two years have been much more publicized than in the past, it has largely been over one consistent issue: A change in the form of county government that allows for a governing body to manage the business of the county while a legislative body determines how much it will cost with no responsibility for those decisions.
I have worked hard to maintain the system of check and balance as it has existed for the last 18 years that I have been involved in it. During the past four years, I have worked hard to ensure that all public meetings have been open and broadcast to the public with opportunity to speak at these meetings. You have a right to be part of this dialogue.
There is a radical group of legislators who gained a majority position in our Belknap County Convention and have used it to try to impose partisan politics at a local level in New Hampshire. Town and county government have not been subjected to this level of politics, and it is a shame to watch it happening.
These candidates win office by assuring reduced taxes, but do not care about the implications and government services that will be impacted. They have no intention of being around to be held accountable for their actions.
It is important to pay close attention to the information relayed to you by Representative Burchell. His actions do not always match his words. It is not realistic to present solutions to problems when you have not bothered to learn anything about the organization.
County government is uniquely positioned to serve the people in ways that a bigger and smaller system may not be able to as effectively or efficiently. I am interested in working through any barriers that exist to find new ways to provide services to the people who need them to make Belknap County a safe and desirable place to live and work.
Look at your county tax bill. It is no accident that the operating budget is lower than 2008 budget.
Rep. Burchell stated, "That is because of the stimulus dollars." Wrong again. The stimulus money cannot be used for operational budget items. I have worked hard in the last four years along with the other commissioners and administration to operate the county business as close to a corporate model as possible and will continue to do so.
I would like to address some of the points Representative Burchell's campaign group have been promoting. (He is one of the radical legislators who continues to make efforts to change county government by eliminating the board that is elected by you to manage the county in the same way selectmen manage a town).
a) The county does not need to pay another professional negotiator, as proposed by Rep. Burchell, to negotiate our collective bargaining agreements. County administrative staff members have specialized training to do this on behalf of the commissioners. The commissioners authorize and are responsible for all negotiations.
The commissioners are elected by the people to work on their behalf. The convention (state representatives) is responsible for appropriating funding for the implementation of the agreements. It is interesting to note that a fourth bargaining unit has been formed by employees in direct response to Rep. Burchell's threats to reduce wages and benefits to county employees.
b) Rep. Burchell and his group on the convention have been rude, discourteous, humiliating, and very offensive to the county employees. He has consistently spoken highly of the employees, but then voted and acted in ways that demonstrate contempt. Two years ago they made it very clear that the employees pay and benefits were a main target. In fact, they refused to provide funding for employee contractual obligations thereby putting the county in legal jeopardy.
c) Employee compensation levels, including administration positions, are evaluated annually. Funding has not allowed for increases since January 2012. Comparisons of pay and benefits with other positions with similar levels of responsibility, educational requirements, and job experience in similar localities are frequently analyzed and balanced with the needs of the county. The process is far superior to the process attempted by Rep. Burchell's group, where they arbitrarily decide to reduce one individual's salary and refused to state any reason for doing so. This was without any performance evaluation or knowledge of the duties and responsibility of that particular position. If this is how he intends to manage, employee morale will certainly diminish.
d) The county has never operated more efficiently. The consistent reductions in appropriations have encouraged more efficiency. This has not always resulted in more effectiveness, but Rep. Burchell has never inquired about effectiveness of county services, only the cost.
e) I have continuously upheld the statutes governing county operations. Rep. Burchell's group attempted to change the law by introducing legislation that would have taken the commissioners' authority and transfer it to the convention. Those pieces of legislation were soundly defeated by their committee of "peers" who listened to the testimony and imagined it being applied to their own counties. None of them thought it was a good idea.
f) Finally, the jail planning process. This is still in process and with continued evaluation and analysis we will arrive at the best possible solution for Belknap County and all of its taxpayers and the criminal justice system that must operate within it. I have always supported an open and inclusive process every step of way and continue to do so.
Please vote in the all-important primary election on Sept. 9. I ask for the opportunity to again serve you as your County Commissioner.
Belknap County Commissioner
- Category: Letters
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