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

Friday, February 19, 2016

County Commissioner's Refuse to Cut Budget by Delegation Requested $2 Million

New meaning to passing the buck? Push back by the Commissioner's and administration to the request last month by the Delegation to cut $2 million from the proposed budget, was that layoffs would have to be made to the tune of 18 of the 350 or so county employees. That would mean that salary and benefits on average would about $111K per employee.
This is just a perfect example of how petty politics, mixed with a healthy dose of incompetence and perhaps even years of indifference, results in financial pain for county taxpayers. Are there any leaders in the Delegation or Commissioner's office?
(These articles in the Conway Daily Sun and the Carroll County Independent have more detail into the latest trials and tribulations over in Ossipee. )
One suggestion I have received is for the Commissioner's to forgo their $10K "salary" as a gesture for the financial mess that no one seems to want to own up to.
Last year, the county hired a new finance director, the first county administrator, a Commissioner was replaced ( by the Delegation) after newly elected Commissioner Miller resigned abruptly and yet, here we are again in a budget bubble that is about to burst. ...again.  Now if the Commissioner's continue to refuse to find cuts in the budget, what will the Delegation do? Do they have sufficient insight into county operations to cut specific areas of spending and understand what the impacts will be? Does anyone? The Commissioner's cannot transfer very much money from line item to line item, so the Delegation will have to be very specific as to what to cut.
I wish there was one  document that outlines in clear language, what happened to the budget from the beginning of 2014 to the end of 2015. That would be a worthwhile effort by our County Administrator and Finance Director and have it in hand for the anticipated fireworks at the upcoming February 29th Delegation meeting.
Taxpayers unfortunately have no vote on the budget or the proposed cuts. Our only recourse is the voting booth when the next election cycle occurs.
The BoS have it in our work plan for early in 2016, to get the Delegation and Commissioner's in front of us and taxpayers to explain  one more time, what is going on in Ossipee.
A personal observation: is there any reason  that Delegation Chair and Vice Chair can't sit and meet with the Commissioner's and the administration and work through the budget line by line in a collaborative effort? Can't do that of course if your job one is to get re-elected next November.


Fred Van Magness said...

It is clear to see that the Commission is long of arrogance and short on leadership. Now is the time for the Delegation to LEAD....not follow the Commissioners. It is not a rocket scientist issue to make cuts. Businesses face this every day. Nobody likes to have to make these tough decisions, but the county mess of the past leaves little faith and confidence in the elected officials to act responsibly. If I were making the cuts, the first place would be the Sheriff's Dept. I would eliminate ALL deputies except those needed to cover areas with NO law enforcement ....and those areas would absorb the full cost of coverage...not allocate it to the entire county. Second, would be dispatch. Next would be a full review of the County Jail operations. Then I would ensure that there are proper financial reports in place to monitor expenses for the first signs of trouble. When overruns occur, added cuts would be needed and implemented as you go though the year. The real issue here is LEADERSHIP. Time to stop the handwringing and get down business. The Delegation must not cave just because of the push back by the Commissioners. It is very positive that our BOS are displaying leadership by having an agenda marker in place to haul them in for a discussion. They might also consider convening a meeting with the other major towns in the county to exert even more pressure. I suspect that the Commissioners will be a no show by just sending the Administrator. Even the BOS should not play into the entrenched arrogance. They need to be very forceful in DEMANDING the Commissioners AND Delegation show up. Time to drag all to the back of the woodshed (and I do not mean the restaurant!!) !!!!!!! Thank you for keeping us informed !

Joseph Cormier said...

Had read both versions on my on-line subscriptions.

Thought came to mind that, maybe, County needs a Annual Town Meeting! Wouldn't that be fun!

Joseph Cormier said...

Here's clip from one of the newspaper articles by MELLISA SEAMANS, reader of this blog, in addition to the $2 million budget issue. Hey ... what the heck ... County Budget ... increase by supplemental by $2.4 million, then cut budget by $2 million.

If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance ... baffle 'em with bull****!

"OSSIPEE — County Commissioner David Babson was fiery mad at an off-camera gesture made by someone during public comments, and now there is a policy to manage the public’s behavior. At their Feb. 10 meeting, the three-member board of commissioners voted unanimously adopt a policy to set ground rules for public behavior at their weekly meetings.

While public officials are required, by law, to keep their meetings open and allow citizens to observe, state law does not require officials to allow the public to speak."

Maybe the gesture was the "fickle-finger award"? Maybe it was a gesture indicating IQ scores? Maybe it was just a single-fingered hand gestured indicating good-bye, leaving the meeting?

Maybe we need to get Hollis over there to record.
Can see it now, the MoBo BoS is going to put a "5 second delay" on town streaming, just in case.


State Rep Glenn Cordelli said...

A budget is about priorities. As some from Moultonborough can attest from the public hearing, we never heard what the Commissioner's priorities are in this budget. At the least Delegation meeting, I suggested that the Delegation would be cutting the budget and suggested that the Commissioners could identify possible cuts based upon their priorities. I guess they are content to have the Delegation do it and I expect there to be no criticism since they are unwilling to offer suggestions.

At the next Delegation meeting, I will be proposing that the Delegation hold meeting around the County especially during these budget discussons. First stop - Moultonborough.

Fred Van Magness said...

The issue with having the Delegation do the cutting is that there will be no ownership by the Commissioners on any reductions nor will they be proactive to implement the program cuts that the Delegation mandates. Then the blame game will come.....the Commissioners will blame the Delegation that they made unsound cuts that could not maintain the level of service the Commissioners believe need to be rendered. The Delegation will blame the Commissioners for not implementing things fast enough. And the Towns will blame both for not keeping costs low. Vicious circle. For the Delegation to be successful, they must make clear reductions that INCLUDE specific actions that have been fully vetted and costed out. They must be very specific in terms of what the Commissioners must do and when. Then they must police the effort to ensure the reductions have been made on a timely basis. Concurrently they must create a budget that has specific monthly cost targets that take all finance accounts and spread them monthly based on reasonable timing of when the cost will be incurred. For example, if a cost is only incurred or expected to be insured in July, then the budget should only reflect that cost in July. This way, there is a manageable budget profiled by month to measure actual expenditures against. The Delegation must insure there are adequate finance reports in place to specifically identify when things are getting out of control and then they must be ready to implement a second round of cuts if the first ones are not producing the desired results. This is all basic management stuff that a solid finance operation and administrator should handle. The Delegation must be strong. There can be no going back to towns for a supplemental budget if they fail. Failure is NOT AN OPTION. I applaud them for taking the the leadership on this issue, but they will need to be BOLD, DECISIVE, and STEADFAST and we as a community need to support them fully as they move forward. Rest assured, any break in the dyke and the Commissioners will institute the blame game.

Joseph Cormier said...

Most of what Fred said, may be correct.

Substitute the word "Commissioners" with "Select Board" and the word "Delegation" with "Legislative Body". Is there that great a difference, with an eye to governance? NO! People are people, and behaviorant conditioning of those elected, probably has more to do with governance than any formula. There will be disagreement ... so be it ... and let the process execute its charter.

The fact is, the process dictates the outcome. We are a Republic, not a Democracy (again)! Elected officials are to perform their duties, as they see fit. If there is controversy ... let the "fur fly".

I applaud Rep. Cordelli's efforts in working this issue. If he can convince the rest of the Delegation to get "citizen input" from the towns in the statutory time limits, that would be great. If it looks like his motion will pass, maybe the blogmeister will start a thread on this blog. He can post the link to the budget and we can all start input even before ... WE ... go the meeting. Novel thought ... letting the electorate have a say!

Oh ya ... Town governance similarity to County governance ... please don't bring up the Community Center. Make an amendment to Article 2 of the warrant. March 12th is the only day of this year, that YOU, are the Delegation and the BoS, are the Commissioners! As Rep. Cordelli suggests ... get town input ... THAT's YOU on Town meeting day!