To The Daily Sun,
Here we go again. The Belknap County Commission signed the County Sheriff's Dept. union agreement/employment contract, to wit, the commission will bring to the Belknap County Delegation for approval. The question is why?
What's problematic is who has the final word regarding any employee agreement with unions: appointed administrator, department heads or sheriff deputies. What is clear is that the Delegation does not employ county employees. It's the commissioners of each county who shall employ such numbers of employee deem necessary. The Commissioners, however, do not have authority to interfere with the terms and conditions of Deputy Sheriffs' employment, so long as the Sheriff complies with the overall budget constraints relating to the deputy sheriffs.
Therefore, just exactly how did the Commission get involved with the elected sheriff's powers vested in the constitution? It is the sheriff who is the constitutional go-to person to negotiate wages and benefit of sheriff deputies. If the elected sheriff exceeds the department's annual appropriation then and only then can the commission exercise its administrative budgetary powers to affect the transfer necessary to abide by the labor agreement.
Accordingly, the Delegation adopts its annual budget resolution. Subsequently, the Commission administers the budget and seeks the approval of the Executive Committee to transfer unencumber appropriation line item amounts to other line items exceeding the estimated line item appropriation amounts.
Only, if or when, cost items associated with the wages and any benefit acquired through collective bargaining whose implementation results in exceeding the 2016 Fiscal Year's Grand Total Appropriation invokes a supplemental appropriation with the Delegation approval. In fact, the Delegation has no authority to alter the terms of any employment contractual agreements.
In the event of cost overruns of line item estimated appropriations involved with contract negotiation requiring additional revenues exceeding the Grand Total Annual Budget, the commissioners apply to the Delegation for a Supplemental Appropriation. In that event, the clerk of the convention shall deliver or mail to each member of the county convention (who will be in office on the date of the convention vote on the proposed supplemental appropriation) and to the chairperson of the board of selectmen in each town and the mayor of each city within the county and to the secretary of state a statement including the amount of the proposed supplemental appropriation and the objects for which the money is required.
Supplemental appropriations generally are made to cover emergencies, such as disaster relief, or other needs deemed too urgent to be postponed until the enactment of next year's regular appropriations act. The county is in its second half of the fiscal year.
Why the Delegation is involved is unknown regarding the deputy sheriffs' contract? What are the individual line-item appropriations impacted as a result of the contractual agreement known to have been anticipated by the sheriff's decision or the Commission's prior to signing of the employment agreement? Clearly, the Executive Committee is the authority to transfer funds as necessary to fund the Sheriff's Department union agreement, not the Delegation.
Thomas A. Tardif
- Category: Letters
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