"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Friday, October 6, 2017

Carroll County Commissioners to Fund Assisted Living Study As a Capital Expenditure, No Delegation Approval Sought

I saw this story (" Gloves come off over assisted living study funding")  today in the Conway Daily Sun. I watched the video of the Carroll County Commissioners meeting of October 4th referred to in the article on Government Oversite. I didn't see many fireworks at that meeting, just a firm decision by the Commissioners on a unanimous vote to spend $10,000 to determine the feasibility of affordable assisted living for the elderly. (So there is no confusion, this study is focused on the needs of the elderly who want to age in place and keep living in their own home versus a nursing home. )

NH RSA 24:13-d requires that line item transfers of appropriations in Carroll County exceeding $1,000 must have the approval of the Delegation Executive Committee. The Delegation is made up of the 15 NH House Representatives for Carroll County.

Commission Chair Amanda Brevard made a statement as the discussion began saying "say what you mean, mean what you say but don't say it mean." Commissioner Hounsel framed his comments as "pointed" not mean and he also referenced Commissioner Babson in the same manner. The Commissioners voted to approve issuing a request for proposal (RFP) to study the feasibility of affordable assisted living housing for the elderly in Carroll County and to fund it by withdrawing $10,000 from a capital project. The county had a savings of more than $40,000 in a boiler replacement project. The Commissioners do not consider withdrawing the $10,000 from this project as a line item transfer, so it does not require the Delegation Executive Committee to approve it. In fact, they now believe that they should never have brought it to the Delegation in the first place.

I spoke with Commissioner Hounsel this morning by phone, not particularly about the October 4th meeting, but it was a large part of the conversation. He firmly believes that the move to table the discussion of the feasibility study at the September Delegation meeting was politically motivated and did not serve the best interests of Carroll County residents. The issue was fully vetted he said,  with many meetings and discussions and the subcommittee that voted 4-1 to recommend the study was fully prepped to make its case to the delegation, but unfortunately, it was not allowed to. He said that the NH DRA and county auditor believe it is legal for the Commissioners to approve funding the study with money from a capital funds account. He believes that those that continue to oppose studying this issue will have problems at the polls in 2018, as there is such a desperate need in the county for assisted living facilities. 

In the Sun article, the follow-up emails, and phone calls are where the gloves came off, with emails and threats of retaliatory cutting of the Commissioner's salaries by Rep Schmidt (r) Wolfeboro. I suspect there will be more to come.

The eight Delegation members that voted in September to table the feasibility study discussion, are outraged at the mention of the idea that their antics at that meeting were pre-arranged. Won't it be embarrassing to them if it turned out that there is proof there was collusion?

County Administrator Ken Robichaud was instructed by the Commissions to issue the RFP and get the study underway as soon as possible.

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