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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Carroll County Delegation tell Commissioner's to Cut $2M from Budget

According to this article in the Carroll County Independent, they are requiring ".. a flat $2 million bottom line cut and leave it up to the commissioners and their administrative staff to figure out where those cuts will come from."
The video can be seen here on GovernmentOversite.Com.  The vote occurs around 2 hours and 50 minutes in. Rep. Ticehurst, Butler and Nelson all voted no.
Philosophically, a percentage reduction in budgets is not a preferred way to reduce spending. What typically occurs are programs that support those that  are most vulnerable are slashed and we end up paying for it later. I hope that the commissioners and the new administrative team will carefully review all the line items in all the departments and make sensible reductions and assure that expected revenues are realistic so that we don't end up with another supplemental budget in 2016.


Josh Bartlett said...

Thank you, Blogger for pointing out the concern about how the cuts might be made.
It is often the case with bureaucracies that cuts of this sort are made to be the most painful and/or hurt the most vulnerable so that the public outcry causes the cuts to be restored. Schools often threaten cutting sports, art, or music whenever they are asked to economize.
Similarly, this also brings up the cry of "unfair cuts" when a proposed budget increase is not as large as someone would want it to be.
I hope that the current County Administration makes the reductions through improved efficiency and good management, such as not paying dental insurance and health insurance on people who are no longer eligible through separation from the county employment or death.

Having spent decades in the commercial sector ... said...

"Philosophically, a percentage reduction in budgets is not a preferred way to reduce spending."

Not preferred but ...!

Maybe not in local government ... but it is very common in the non-government sector.

Some that are experienced, even expect a customary 10% cut automatically. Explains the rationale, that the budget submitted, is automatically "fudged" higher than needed by 15%.

Then again, that was not taxpayer money.

You know .. that I know ... that you know ... that I know ... the game!

Free Van Magness said...

When you sign up to a leadership position in government, the expectation is that you will lead and not be a follower. In the case of the County Commissions, I have seen little to no leadership in managing the county. I applaud the County Delegation for taking a bold step to control spending and the associated tax impacts on their represented communities. Inevitably, we will probably see the cries and tears from all corners of the county government and excuses as to why things cannot be done. There are always opportunities to tighten the belt. Josh and the bloggers are correct....sensible reductions must be made rather than just equalized reductions in each area. But in the end, it is the County Commission with the guidance of their newly hired full time administrator who must make the cuts. I would hope that the message delivered by the Delegation is that no over-expeditures will be tolerated and a Supplemental Budget is a non starter. Without that high level of discipline, things could deteriorate into what we saw last year when the finger pointing happened over an unrealistic budget. Leaders LEAD.......and we must avoid the mentality of OPM..Other People's Money !!! The Delegation must now ensure that measurements are in place to ensure that budgets are achieved and that any early signs of overruns are identified and subsequent measures implemented to keep spending within approved levels. Remember, the financial tools must be in place so that the Delegation has some skin in the game to ensure that they know exactly when things are getting out of control It is on them !!!!!!!!! Monthly measurements are key. Often measurements are so detailed that people get lost in the weeds. The Delegation needs simple things such as Financial Dashboards and Barometers that identify issues at a high level MONTHLY, and then they can descend into the weeds if need be to find the root causes. This is basic stuff for financial managers and leaders....not rocket science. I did it ever day in my career. A few pieces of paper can do it IF designed and developed correctly. In the whole discussion, our BOS also needs to go on record to support the Delegation and make sure our representatives manage things tightly on a monthly basis.

Looked at County website, once or twice ... said...

The county finally hired a real finance person, and finally hired a county administrator. They are, hopefully, familiar with financial process and procedure, and will turn things around.

Thank goodness we've got Walter!

The commissioners and the delegation weren't the ones that pointed out $14 million "typo" in the MS forms. Most, in this town we're still lamenting, why the town couldn't do something about the $2.4 million "adjustment" upwards.

They, nor the present BoS, were aware of RSA 85 that suggested all of us could be held liable, from all we have, if the town did not pay.

"EXTENT" is a legal term that is relevant, in the tax realm.

85:1 Who may Issue. – The state treasurer or the commissioner of revenue administration, and each county and town treasurer, may issue extents under their hands and seals respectively, in cases authorized by law, and such extents shall be deemed to be executions against the person and property.

In addition to the Select Board and tax collector:

85:2 Liability of Town. – Any town which shall neglect to choose proper officers for assessing and collecting taxes shall be liable to an extent for state and county taxes; and the same may be levied upon the property of any inhabitant or owner of property therein, if no estate of such town be found whereon to levy the same.

Notice the part about " ... levied upon the property of any inhabitant or owner ..."

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Agree Fred. The Commissioner's should not have presented a budget that was not already as lean as can be. Lack of leadership. The delegation throwing it back at the Commissioners wipes their hands clean. We still have not laid eyes on the 2014 audit.

Not a beancounter ... said...

The reporter article is interesting. Especially the part about on-line registry of deeds. Something useful.

Why the "article" however? I've not viewed the video, but did visit the county website, and I'm not sure what numbers are being discussed.

The article says:

"The MS-46 form that must be filed with NH Department of Revenue details the proposed 2016 budget at $30,727,394, with about $18.5 million of that to be raised through taxation. This is an increase over 2015 of about $2 million."

Are those the same numbers as the MS 46-2016 on the county website? At least it looks like the revenue side has changed. Remember the supposed "typo". The $2 million cut is where? Not there yet?



Maybe we can help. We can look at the line items and tell them what to change.

State Rep Glenn Cordelli said...

The Commissioners proposed budget is an increase in spending of over $3 million over the actual 2014 budget and an increase to the amount to be raise by taxes of almost 30% over 2014.
A budget is about priorities. Some of you attended the Commissioner's budget public hearing and presentation to the Delegation. We certainly did not get any sense of their priorities.
When I was on my school board back in CT ($75 million budget 15 years ago), we gave the administration the opportunity to offer suggestions on where they might find reductions to match dollar levels we gave them. I thought it would be good time to present that opportunity to the County Commissioners.
Back in the Fall when we were considering a supplemental budget, the Commissioners came up with cuts for the remainder of the year. If they are willing to accept the opportunity, fine. Otherwise the Delegation will be ready to come up with a more reasonable budget.

Mellisa Seamans said...

Please excuse the length of my post but I've had enough and am not afraid to put my name to it.

Remember a previous conversation on this site about the aging population Carroll County? It’s no wonder that the heftiest spike in the 2016 county budget is the $472,000 increase in what we will pay to NH Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services. We are told this is a State program, the State controls the formula, the State can penalize us if we don’t pay it, yet no one can tell us how much of this $5 million bill is being spent on administrative costs versus patient care or if we are paying for people we are actually responsible for. I, for one, am growing tired (after 6 years of pressing the issue) of being told by state and county elected officials that this is something we have no control over. Maybe $5 million is a true number but we deserve proof.
The other major increase in the county budget is $350,000 for upgrades to the dispatch center. But it doesn’t really count because it is a 100% grant and that same amount will offset the expense on the revenue sheet. If this is true, this item will have no impact on the county tax rate.
Add to that $359,000 in insurance-related increases ($63,000 property/liability, $111,000 medical for jail employees, $151,000 that represents the worst case scenario of the county matching employee health insurance deductibles, etc.).
With that all said, it doesn’t take much to realize where nearly $1.2 million of the $2 million increase is.
The reality is the county has some VERY valuable, smart, creative, and hardworking employees who live /pay taxes/vote in Carroll County. They are the ones that we seldom, if ever, see on camera. But they bust their butts searching out the best prices on pencils, recouping thousands that auditors would rather write off as bad debt, work 24-7 to fill beds at the nursing home, and correct years’ worth of negligent financial “management” to stop the $$$ hemorrhage of benefits we were paying for former (and even deceased) employees. Unfortunately, rather than harnessing the power of these minds, we have county employees fearing for their jobs because some higher-ups say the big bad delegation has left them no choice but to cut staff. Hogwash.
The other reality is that the county has long been lax in harnessing the power of the people. Years ago I handed the commissioners a list of selectmen, business folks, and others who agreed to VOLUNTEER their time to do all the work to create a capital improvement plan for the county. Not sure but that whole packet probably ended up in a trash can somewhere. I offered to tackle the BEAS concerns and bring forth a full report. I was basically told it wasn’t my job and mind my own business. Additionally, there is a group who is willing to volunteer to serve on a task force to do a cost accounting/management practices/public survey/full analysis of our county farm to see if that operation should continue. I doubt anyone will give them the time of day. At the public budget hearing, Moultonborough folks offered to give their time to assist with the budget process. Again…crickets….
The answer isn’t “If you don’t like it why don’t you run for office.” The answer isn’t “If you don’t like it move or go find a job someplace else.” The answer isn’t, “You elected/hired us to be in charge so get out of the way and let us do our job.” And the answer most CERTAINLY is not, “If the media would stop meddling in everything the county would be fine.” But I have heard every single one of those responses in my decade reporting on and/or working for the county. So my answer to the powers that be is, stop operating in a broken vacuum, harness the power of the people, and (stealing this one from Bill Belichick) DO YOUR JOB.

Ombudsman ... said...

No apology needed for length of post! As is your reporting, well written.

I'm going to take advantage of this blog thread, for a post I made on a different blog thread. It deals more with MoBo, rather than the County.

There's is a link, however. I used the 9.01 tax rate, which is what it is now, before the $2.4 million supplemental county increase. It was, 8.86 tax rate for MoBo, prior to the supplemental.

If some of you decide to go back to previous tax bills from Susette,keep that in mind. Didn't want to bring up too many

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed that all the BoS were not in attendance last night for such an important meeting....causing the BoS not to be able to cast their votes on the warrant articles.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Sometimes things come up in our lives that can't be avoided, even for elected officials. The warrant article recommendations will be voted on next week.