The Carroll County Delegation met last Monday and made some progress on the budget as reported in this article in the Conway Daily Sun. Some major decisions still need to be made, such as laying off staff at the county nursing home and what to do with the county farm. The commissioner's proposed a budget of $31M and the delegation wants a budget that is $2M less.
An interesting issue that the article mentions is that the delegation cut off funding for membership in the NH Association of Counties. Some delegation members were upset that the association's president, George Maglaras, Strafford County Commissioner, testified against a bill proposed by some Carroll County lawmakers. It is alleged that he told the committee the county delegation withheld money for audits.
Not being members in the county association could jeopardize training for county corrections officers. Rep. Cordelli and Rep Crawford were on opposite ends of this argument. Rep. Crawford was correct in my opinion to say that employee training was being held hostage by this cut of $8,300 from the budget. In the March 6th edition of the Conway Daily Sun Rep. Crawford was quoted as saying that "Everyone is upset about this gentleman's comments, but I don't know why we are holding that (training) hostage for an apology from him and why we are stopping our certification waiting for someone who kind of sounds like he is not going to apologize." In that same story County Administrator Ken Robichoud said that "You are penalizing us for one person's remarks, I don't feel that's fair, and I think that's irresponsible."
Rep. Cordelli had two reasons for withholding membership dues. One was the previously mentioned issue with Mr. Maglaras and the other was the the association hired a lobbyist to advocate for the county and he believes that taxpayers should not have to pay for that. In addition, he is alleging that Maglaras provided false testimony to the committee.
According to their website The New Hampshire Association of Counties represents the interests of county government in New Hampshire. The organization is a state-wide Association, which includes the 30 elected County Commissioners as well as all elected county officials and the professionals and staff who run County government in all ten counties. The Associations activities include: providing coordinating training programs, supporting intergovernmental relationships with state and municipal officials, advocating on behalf of county government and the county taxpayers before the NH Legislature and the Governor and Council, and acting as a clearinghouse for information and best practices which relate to the efficient operation of County government in New Hampshire.
It is very much like the the NH Municipal Association and the NH School Boards Association.We pay dues and receive valuable services from both. I think Rep. Cordelli and the nine delegation members who voted to cut the funding are putting their philosophical issues ahead of the needs of the county. Voting in favor of continuing the funding was the delegation chair, Karen Umberger and Reps Butler, Crawford, Ticehurst and Parker.
I admittedly know very little about the county farm, other than it has been in existence for more than 150 years. Carroll County is not a "big city" county, we are mostly rural. Losing a piece of history like the county farm would perhaps save some money in the budget, but on more piece of our history will be forever lost and that is not right.
The delegation will next meet on March 21st at 9am in the county administrative building.