To The Daily Sun,
I recently read your article revealing that the feud between the Belknap County delegation and commissioners over the last year has cost the county a whopping $70,000 in unbudgeted legal fees.
I hope the irony in this is not lost on your readers. The legal battle was waged over the ability to make line-item changes within the budget. The court sided with the delegation and instituted a $300 maximum on any line-item changes county commissioners and the administrator could make without the delegation's permission. This crippled county government so that county nursing home workers were concerned about keeping their health insurance and their jobs. It caused similar mayhem at the county jail, leaving the prison so short-staffed that visitation was not even possible at times.
Prior to the holidays, county workers were subjected to unwarranted anxiety, worry and concern about whether money could be transferred from one line item to another in order for the county to pay its contracted share of their health insurance premiums; and layoffs were feared — all because the delegation wanted tighter control of the county's purse strings. Now that the old delegation and commissioners are out and the new are in, no one wants to pay the $70,000 bill they stuck to the county residents.
I believe most Belknap County residents would agree that paying out $70,000 in unnecessary legal fees is appalling. I'm sure they can think of much better ways to have spent their hard-earned tax dollars without terrorizing low-wage workers who care for the county's sick, elderly, and incarcerated.
Now that it's time to pay the piper, new county leadership is stalling. Sadly, this isn't surprising. Hopefully, the leadership will end the nonsense and move forward without further harm to county services and those who provide them.
Richard Gulla, President
SEA/SEIU Local 1984
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