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Former mayor sues county; charges Right to Know, union violations

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Former Laconia Mayor Tom Tardif has filed a legal action against the Belknap County Commissioners and Belknap County Delegation in which he maintains that both parties have committed numerous violations of state statutes, including the Right to Know law, in their recent approvals of a collective bargaining agreement with unionized workers at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
The lawsuit was filed last week in Belknap County Superior Court and it is anticipated that it will be heard in Carroll County Superior Court, as have Tardif's recent legal actions against the county and the city of Laconia.
Tardif maintains that both the commissioners and delegation have failed to meet the public notice requirements of state law, which requires a seven-day notice before meetings, and that placing the public notice in The Laconia Daily Sun, whose circulation Tardif maintains excludes Barnstead, disenfranchised the residents and voters of Barnstead and their right to know what county government is doing.
He also maintains that the county delegation has no role to play in approving employee contracts, as the county commissioners are the executive body of the county. Tardif says that the only way the the delegation could become involved is if the cost items of agreement exceed the grand total of appropriations approved by the delegation, which would then have to approve a supplemental appropriation to cover the cost items.
"Lacking any documentation that the cost item relating to the union employment agreements was anticipated to exceed the Grand Total Appropriation for FY 2016, negates any and all involvement with the delegation, as the implementation of the collective bargaining agreement did not require an appropriation by the legislative body."
The contract was approved by commissioners on Nov. 2 and by the county delegation on Nov. 22.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton), a retired lawyer, said at the Nov. 22 meeting that the objections to the contract raised by Tardif in a letter to the editor published in The Laconia Daily Sun a week prior to the meeting, ignored state law RSA 273-A:3-11-b, which says that the legislative body of the governmental entity involves passes on cost items of collective bargaining agreements.