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Tax & spend county commissioners showing lack of leadership

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.

Brian Gallagher

Sanbornton

George Hurt

Gilford

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Turn Up The Heat fundraiser met $10,000 goal. Thanks for your help

To The Daily Sun,

When the reduction of federal funds for fuel assistance was announced in the fall of 2010, six friends discussed how they might lend a helping hand to their neighbors. A fundraising committee was formed and included members from Meredith, Center Harbor, and Moultonborough. Today the committee has expanded to 14 members. Thus, the Turn Up the Heat fuel fundraiser originated.

Raising $10,000 was the goal set to be divided evenly among the towns of Meredith, Center Harbor, and Moultonborough. Through the generosity of local businesses, civic and community organizations, donations from individuals, and those who attended the thank you event that goal became a reality. That same goal was set for the next annual events with even more support from the local community and beyond.

On Monday, Feb. 6, the sixth annual February Fuel Raiser thank you event will be held in the Oval Room at Church Landing, Meredith. Musical entertainment will be donated by Geoff Cunningham. Committee members include Sandy Condojani, Jeanie Forrester, Carol Gerken, Julie Gnerre-Bourgeois, Tuffy Hamblet, Jodie Herbert, Bonnie Hunt, Terry Jutton, Diane Lane, Barbara Lauterbach, Renee Speltz, Sandy Sullivan, Jacki Taylor, and Cyndi Troop.

Major sponsors include Altrusa International Club of Meredith, Bank of New Hampshire, The Common Man, Bob and Sharon Cormier, DAK Financial, E.M. Heath Inc., Giuseppe's Pizzeria & Ristorante, Chip and Wendy Harris, Inns & Spa at Mill Falls, Lovering Volvo, Melcher & Prescott Insurance, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Meredith Rotary Club, Miracle Farms Landscaping, Municipal Resources, Inc., New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, Pemi Glass, The Shamrock Companies, and Justin and Courtney Van Etten.

For those wishing to make a donation, please make checks payable to: Latchkey Charities, (a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization), and mail to P O Box 176, Meredith, NH 03253. Donations are tax-deductible.

The committee is already planning next year's event and hopes to increase the goal for our neighbors in need for 2018.

Carol F. Gerken, Volunteer

Turn Up the Heat Planning Committee

Meredith

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