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Returning the county surplus was supposed to produce tax relief; how's that looking now?

To The Daily Sun,

Rep. Michael Sylvia apparently needs to be reminded that it is he and other past and present members of the Belknap County Delegation who are 100 percent responsible for the looming spike in the county’s budget. Perhaps he doesn’t recall the public hearing discussing the 2017 budget process during which the proposal to return $600,000 in surplus to the towns by (then) Rep. Brian Gallagher was put forth and subsequently approved by the Republican majority. I attended that meeting and sat immediately behind county commission Chairman Dave DeVoy as he implored Rep. Gallagher that doing so was ill-advised and that those funds could best be applied towards repairing the roof of the county complex, a much-needed project.

Purportedly, the return of the surplus would result in “tax relief” for the citizens of the county. Having just paid my local tax bill, I’m still waiting for my “relief” and the portion of that tax bill that went to Belknap County was minimal, as is always the case.

For the past several years, I’ve witnessed Rep. Sylvia and his like-minded cohorts accuse the county commissioners of everything from misrepresentation to incompetence in order to justify their irresponsible positions. They have continually ignored the advice of the county’s auditors and financial advisors as it relates to maintaining minimum recommended levels of fund balance. Instead, they have engaged in a systematic attack on county operations, forcing the commissioners and department heads to reduce services and constantly transfer funds within the existing budget. This flies in the face of responsible budgeting and good public policy. Need we be reminded of the delegation’s initial refusal to fund the operations of the new community corrections facility and their insistence that there was already enough money in the budget to do so? As Rep. David Huot recently pointed out, if Rep. Sylvia wants to continue to play a blame game, he needs to look no further than his mirror.  

Craig Wiggin

Meredith

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Letters
  • Hits: 216

Not a penny of that 2016 county surplus was used to pay debt and Brian Gallagher knows it

To The Daily Sun,

In our letter of Nov. 29, we criticized Brian Gallagher for his 2016 actions leading to depletion of the county fund balance. We pointed out that his claim (during the recent hearing discussing his candidacy for Gunstock Commissioner) that the county reserves were taken not to provide tax relief but rather to pay off old debt service was spurious. Minutes from the Feb. 16, 2016, delegation meeting clearly show that our claim is true and Mr. Gallagher’s current revisionary statements inaccurate. We also pointed out that he personally certified the specifics as to how the reserve money in question was appropriated on a line in a state form titled “FUND BALANCE TO REDUCE TAXES.” Also highlighted was the fact that the claimed paying off of long-term debt never took place, and that the same (old) long-term debt is still being paid off today.

In his reply letter of Dec. 5, Mr. Gallagher did not deny a single one of these specific facts. Instead, he engaged in wildly inflammatory, totally vague and completely unsupported allegations that we are “in over our heads” as commissioners and that we are using “fictitious facts” and showing signs of “early dementia.” No substantive response was even hinted at in his letter.

Calling the facts “fictitious” does not make them so, and generalized mudslinging is not factual rebuttal. If anything, Mr. Gallagher's failure to refute the specifics of our criticisms provide further evidence that the Gallagher tax cut of 2016 designed to benefit his state senate campaign has morphed into the Gallagher tax spike of 2018.

Dave DeVoy, Sanbornton

Hunter Taylor, Alton

Belknap County Commissioners

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Letters
  • Hits: 216