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Let’s hope Brian Gallagher has learned lesson on Gunstock

To The Daily Sun,

In a recent disturbing turn of events, the Belknap County delegation voted to replace Sean Sullivan, current chair of the Gunstock Area Commission (which, along with Gunstock management, controls the day-to-day operations of Gunstock) with former state Rep. Brian Gallagher. The decision was disturbing on several fronts, including that a highly regarded commissioner with a proven track record of responsible decision-making was denied another term in favor of a politician with a track record of fiscal irresponsibility. Additional disturbing aspects of the hearing were Mr. Gallagher's blatant dishonesty about his past actions, and the current Delegation chairman’s refusal to allow public comment, including from a sitting county commissioner, a sitting Gunstock commissioner, and several former Gunstock commissioners.

During the delegation’s discussions prior to the vote, former delegation Chairman Frank Tilton argued in favor of Sean Sullivan, pointing out that Mr. Gallagher (while a member of the delegation) had been instrumental in causing the downhill slide of the county reserve fund that the county faces today. In 2016, Mr. Gallagher spearheaded a move by a majority of the delegation to increase the amount of reserves to be taken out and given to taxpayers as “tax relief” from $1.775 million to $2.38 million. In his comments at the recent hearing, Mr. Tilton stressed that Gunstock, like the county, needed adequate reserves to guard against unexpected shortfalls. Gunstock’s need for substantial reserves is obviously compounded by being an operation greatly affected by weather uncertainties. With both the county and Gunstock, if the reserves are inadequate the taxpayers ultimately bear the burden.

Being offered by the delegation chair the opportunity to respond to Mr. Tilton’s criticisms, Mr. Gallagher claimed that his call for increased use of county reserves was not to decrease taxes but rather to pay off old long-term debt service being financed by the taxpayers. A review of delegation history shows this statement to be untrue. As two of the County Commissioners who were there and opposed the finance action of Mr. Gallagher that is in question, we wish to make the record clear as to what in fact took took place and the impact of the action in question.

In fact, at a Feb. 16, 2016, delegation meeting, Mr. Gallagher personally moved to increase the budget line in question (for appropriation of money to be removed from reserves and applied to taxpayer relief) by $605,000 (from $1,775,000 to $2,380,000). Later in 2016, when Mr. Gallagher (as clerk of the delegation) certified the specifics of the actual 2016 budgetary appropriation to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue, the $605,000 was clearly part of the $2,380,000 shown on the line entitled “FUND BALANCE TO REDUCE TAXES”. Perhaps even more tellingly, during his later unsuccessful run for state Senate, Mr. Gallagher’s campaign website featured his claim that he was responsible for a reduction in county taxes that year, clearly referring to the $605,000.

Any possibility that Mr. Gallagher’s claim that the reserve funds were used to “pay off” old long-term debt is removed by the MS-42 filed for the county a year later for the 2017 budget year. Line 4711 of that certification by the delegation (of its appropriation for 2017) shows that $198,608 was appropriated for payment of long-term debt. Clearly the debt had not been paid off by use of the $605,000 from reserve as claimed by Mr. Gallagher. Ironically, that same old debt service has still not been paid off; the final payment of $98,000 is due in 2018.

Anyone questioning the importance of maintaining adequate reserves need only look at the situation facing Belknap County in 2018 with clearly inadequate reserves. This problem was anticipated and addressed by County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy at the Feb. 22, 2016, budget meeting, when he urged the delegation to hold onto the $605,000 rather than following Mr. Gallagher’s wish to use it to reduce taxes. It was already well known that the county complex needed a new roof with an anticipated cost of over $500,000. Mr. DeVoy recommended postponing the decision about the $605,000 until after completion of the new Community Corrections Center, when the wisdom of various alternatives would become clearer. If the center was completed under the $8 million approved by the convention, then the roof cost could be included in the bond approved for the center as long-term debt, or the ultimate bond could be for less than the approved $8 million and the roof replacement could be paid out of reserves, which would be sufficient if the $605,000 remained.

The current possibilities regarding the roof are much less favorable than anticipated in 2016. Belknap County will end 2017 with a dangerously low reserve fund, most likely well under $1 million. Fortunately, the corrections center was completed under budget, and the delegation has already approved adding the roof cost to the new long-term debt. County taxpayers will be paying for this indebtedness over the next 20 to 25 years.

In addition to the new long-term debt, the county faces other costs which will inevitably result in increased taxes. The cost of many county operations has increased, often as a result of factors outside the county’s control (especially regarding health insurance costs). Reserve funds are not available to soften the county tax increases. It is still true that the county portion of a property tax bill is only a small portion (5 percent to 10 percent) of the total bill, but wiser decisions could have avoided the current problem. The “Gallagher tax cut” of 2016, which saved the average taxpayer $12 a year, will become the “Gallagher tax spike” of 2018. The untruthfulness of Mr. Gallagher statements during his pitch to become a Gunstock Commissioner shows that even he now recognizes the harm he caused; otherwise, there would have been no reason to mislead as to how the $605,000 was spent. Let us all hope that he has learned a lesson, and that in his new role as Gunstock commissioner he will be more fiscally responsible, recognizing that saving a dollar today that costs five in the near future is not the way to manage Gunstock, any more than it was the way to manage the county.

Dave DeVoy, Sanbornton
Hunter Taylor, Alton

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Letters
  • Hits: 351

No responsible official has advocated eliminating gun ownership in U.S., no matter what letter writers claim

To The Daily Sun,

I want to point out two deluded people whose letters were published in this last Saturday’s paper. A disconnect with reality such as these two display should automatically prevent them from having any guns, but then again the president said it’s OK for crazy people to have guns, so maybe it is time to up the ammunition in my home.

1. George Brunstad: George espouses the very core of the GOP — to lie and confuse any facts that they so choose. First off, NO ONE in any position of responsibility has offered a solution of eliminating all gun ownership in America. This is a lie that has kept the Republicans popular and even thriving in states like New Hampshire and other weapon-happy states. And while as of today there have been 392 mass shootings in America (a mass shooting is one that kills and/or injures at least three people), we’ve yet to see a mass abortion.

George also repeats the lie that Hillary Clinton “emphatically confirmed” that the unborn have no constitutional rights, when what she ACTUALLY said was that she was against criminalizing abortion after 24 weeks because in some cases the health of the mother is in danger. And — by the way — New Hampshire is one of the states that allows an abortion right up to the 40th week. New Hampshire also allows the marriage of girls as young as 13. Do you think girls that young are capable of raising a child?

Multiple states have legislation that says if you kill a pregnant woman you can be charged with multiple homicides depending on the stage of the pregnancy.

Finally, George pointed out that 15 white men defined and refined Hitler’s "final solution.” Very true. That’s not much different than the 13 old white men who wrote the Senate’s health care bill that determines all health care options for women. It including deleting a woman’s right to contraception. Studies have shown clearly that if you take away affordable contraception for women, the abortion rate goes up. If you take away abortion rights then not only do illegal abortions occur, but the death rate for those women climbs exponentially. So back to the guns, George, what do you care about most? People already alive and thriving and raising families only to get killed at a concert? Or a fetus that has a primordial brain structure that only allows it to maintain a heartbeat? And George, since the introduction of President Obama’s health care act, abortion rates have gone down between 8 and 12 percent a year for the past seven years. But in the meantime, deaths of women and children have soared due to gun violence. Since the year of my birth in 1960, more people have been killed due to gun violence than all Americans killed in all of our wars COMBINED. Living, breathing people.

As to our president, his actions defending white supremacists and his talk about restricting the rights of anyone who disagrees with him are EXACTLY in line with what Chancellor Hitler did in Germany in the late 1930s. His policies are in line with those of Hitler, as well. And remember, too, that Trump’s list of “undesirables” are liberals, Muslims, the press and media, and black football players. But as usual for someone of your mindset, you’ll gloss over that in order to force your religious and moral views on the populace.

2. Christina Fay: She states that while she had 73 Great Danes, 13 were bound for new homes and that 50 of them would have been a good number. Clearly, she’s inhaled far too much Dane methane in order to think straight. Now I may not have an enormous mansion like she does, but I have had Great Danes. I have one now, as well as two French mastiffs, and I can promise you that the care and feeding of them keeps me busy. Multiple feedings per day, regular grooming and nail clipping, wiping them down daily, keeping them healthy, giving them things to keep their teeth strong and healthy, getting them to water multiple times a day, managing play time, picking up voluminous amounts of “dog exhaust” and exercise is a daily task. And to say that doing that for 50 is “doable”? She’s nuts.

How can you possibly spend quality time with your pets when you have that many? I’ll tell you that you cannot. My dogs live long lives and they don’t get or never had cherry eye or the infected feet or any of the other things that most of her dogs suffered from. They had those issues due to neglect. Her house was virtually destroyed due to neglect. Dogs died due to neglect. The real travesty here is that she was charged with only 12 misdemeanor counts of animal abuse and not 73 felony counts of animal abuse, neglect, and death. That would be far more fitting. A Great Dane is a beautiful and gentle creature that will love and trust its owner. Seeing her in a prison cell for a while as well as a lifetime ban on owning ANY animals would be a far more fitting sentence than the wrist slap she’ll probably receive.

Alan Vervaeke

Gilford

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Letters
  • Hits: 111