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

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Proposed County Budget $3.2M over Original 2015 Budget, $844K over Supplemental

The gift that keeps on giving. Back in March the Delegation approved a budget that appropriated $15,223,774.  In September of 2015, they approved a supplemental budget of $2,400,000.  ( Comparison chart is below.)

The Delegation has not yet had a chance to weigh in on this budget for 2016 as of yet, but the impact ( if the numbers are accurate ) is that the amount to be raised by taxes increased this year by $2.6 million and it is proposed to increase again next year by  $3.2 million. That is a total over the two tax years of $5.8 million or an additional $713K from Moultonboro tax payers over the two years. Of the total proposed appropriation for 2016, our tax share would be just around $4 million.
The $844,176 dollar delta over last year is a bit deceiving as it is on top of the supplemental budget, not the original March 2015 budget. We were led to believe that this supplemental appropriation was a one time deal to get over the crisis of over estimated revenues.

From the BoS September 3rd meeting minutes: " Commissioner Christopher Ahlgren said that the problem is with the collections from the state of NH’s Medicaid. He further explained that the $2.6 million supplemental budget, only $1 million is towards the deficit replacement, which will occur this tax bill only. The $1.6 million is a revenue adjustment. He said that they expect the County’s tax rate next year will be lower. "
There does appear to be a huge shortfall in revenue for the nursing home of almost $4 million ( page 9 of the MVC proposed 2016 budget) with expenses of $14, 636,291 and anticipated revenue of just $10,700,000. Why such a gap?
I agree with Fred Van Magness who commented previously that there is no narrative or executive summary to help make sense of this. I expect that the Delegation will have many questions for the County Administrator and Finance Director come Monday at the public hearing.
Still early in the process, but based upon past history, I am not optimistic it will be smooth sailing.


Fred Van Magness said...

Very interesting article in today's Laconia Daily Sun where there has been a proposal to privatize the Belknap County Home. This may be a realistic option for Carroll County as well. I see no reason for government to run a nursing home. Maybe privatization is the best option moving forward and should be at least explored depth. It is also possible to maybe join with Belknap and do a two-for !! Concerning the proposed budget, there are many open questions that must be addressed. If Blogger has it correct, we are again walking right into a minefield of issues with little analysis and review. We must move very slowly and methodically...not rush to an answer. We need to take the time to really absorb the data in detail. And maybe a zero based budget approach is absolutely necessary to get the real answers.

Joseph Cormier said...

Unfortunately, the voters don't do the budgeting.

The best that can had is that voters, vote-out or vote-in, their elected representatives, who actually approve budgets.

Joseph Cormier said...


Carroll County Commissioners meeting of 11/25/15. Some budget discussion @ 25 minutes in. Bring no-doze!

Thanks again Rep. Comeau for the site.

Fred Van Magness said...

The Nursing Home is the large elephant in the room. The projected loss for 2016 is almost $4 million dollars that must be made up from taxation. I believe Moultonborough's share of this loss (I think) is in the vicinity of $1 million. It would be interesting to see the total number of residents in the home by community. Wonder if we occupy 26% of the beds. Some added data.....Medicare reimbursements are not getting any better. Medicaid is not getting better. The State of NH support is not going to get any better. For the most part, reimbursements are going to be less and less each year. Bottom line, the taxpayer support is only going to get greater. We need to be realistic and get out of the nursing home business.

Next, why do we need a County Farm.? The numbers have now been combined into DPW, but it seems that the revenue does not fully offset the expenses. This needs to be examined in further detail to determine if the overall benefits exceed the cost to operate.

It is also time for the various towns to demand an Advisory Budget Committee that is accountable to the Delegation....not the commissioners...and who would be charged to present a formal budget report to each town BOS in the County before a public hearing on budget is held. And this committee should meet in a more central location within the County borders...not in Ossipee. The makeup of the committee would be 5 people....one from each of the top 5 communities in terms of population and share of county taxes. This committee would be mandated to publish draft formal minutes of all deliberations within 7 days of each meeting.

It is time to get serious.....

Eric Taussig said...

One of the fundamental problems, which will likely never be solved is why we need another layer of government at the county level at all??? It would seem that Towns and the State should be able to absorb the duties of a county so that we would only have 3 levels of government, local, state and federal.

Looking at the services the county provides, one really has to wonder why the citizens don't insist on a reorganization that admittedly would require state constitutional amendments to eliminate the entire county government and redistribute the minimal functions to either the state or appropriate local government.

The functions of the county I see are:

The Sherriff’s Department (we have local and state police - seems like duplication)
The County Attorney’s Office (why doesn't the State assume this function)
The Registry of Deeds (a needed function that could be transferred to the state and put on-line)
The County Nursing Home: Mountain View Community (clearly a function that is optional)
The House of Corrections (should be a state function)
The County Farm (clearly a function that is optional)

Obviously without the above, one would not need commissioners, employees, a budget, tax collection, etc.

I'm sure I have left some things out, but a county government seems redundant and unnecessary.

Perhaps this should be a long-term goal of reformers, with some state legislative study to start the ball rolling.

Rick Heath said...

Thoughts on Fred's comments: We tax payers have spent the money and built a fine facility that replaced an old, barely functional and limited nursing home. In my years as a food service sales rep I saw the insides of many private and public (county) nursing homes. There are poorly run modern structures and well run older facilities. The facility has little to do with the quality. The quality of care is paramount in the decision of ANY family looking for a place for there loved one to be cared for. I used to rate (in my own mind) the nursing home's qualities based on what kind and quality of foods they bought, what I observed for care, equipment and intermingling of patients and high on my rating chart was the "pee-smell factor". One can learn a lot about the caregiving of a home by the "smell test". There are some very well run (I didn't look at their bottom line) county homes and some poorly run privately managed homes. What I worry about the most is that we have people, notwithstanding the new hires of County Administrator and Finance Dir, in charge of an expensive piece of real estate in that facility. They have proven their inability to manage, be it money or people. The circumstances presently exist for a good facility to have poor, even unsafe and or hazardous conditions to take over. I am not saying that we are there or not. But the situation does exist.
With all that said, I would be more interested in seeking and interviewing private sector management companies that specialize in nursing home management. That way the property stays in our ownership. An outside contractor would have to be on a short leash so that if they were not fulfilling their responsibilities the county could seek and hire a replacement.
Thoughts on Eric's comments: Getting rid of county government would be harder than finding peace in the Middle East. In many cases throughout New England county authority is older than town or state authority. It is settled and firmly ensconced in the political landscape. In ain't going to going anywhere. The best we can get is a management team that is driven by efficiency of spending and quality of services. NOT creating larger and larger dept. budgets to justify their jobs. This is (at ALL levels of govt.) bureaucracy building at the taxpayer's expense. Bonuses should be awarded for proven efficiencies and performing at high level standards of quality service. This may sound, to the seasoned bureaucrat, as opposing goals. After all, spending someone else's money is the standard for fixing anything. We can do better for less. It is called performance and implementation of training and establishing high standards and achievable goals for ALL employees. Reducing the redundancies that Eric spells out would be a good start. In NH for instance the sheriff's department in many counties, has become fertile ground for a second careers of retired officers. Some very small towns have opted to rely on county sheriffs to provide what we pay dearly for here in Moultonborough... our own PD. As a small town they pay much less towards the county budget. That should change. They want more service they play for it...

Joseph Cormier said...

I happen to share Eric's sentiment regarding NH County government.

Unfortunately, reformers would probably get trampled by the multitude of lobbyists and county sycophants that would oppose elimination of county government.

A 2005 article:
"CONCORD, N.H. — Two leading state senators — one Republican and one Democrat — want the state to consider abolishing some county government functions, saying it could help local property taxpayers and standardize some services."


A 2010 article:
"Every once in a while, someone wants to overthrow the government - the county government."


The "frosting on the cake" would be if "the town" refuses to pay the county tax. Penalties could include seizing of personal assets; not just the selectmen, and tax collector, but of the town folks as well. This advice has been given to the BoS by town counsel, and is demonstrated in RSA 85.

Selectmen extent:

Tax collector extent:

Town extent:

Who may issue an extent:


NH law says so, BUTT, but it could make for a constitutional hell-of-a-court-fight at federal level!

ACLU would probably go pro bono and expect to go to SCOTUS ... just an opinion and not advice!