I spent some quality time at the county complex this morning meeting face to face with Carroll County Administrator Ken Robichaud, Finance Director Charles Stuart and Commissioner David Babson. I also took a tour of the county nursing home with Administrator Howard Chandler. More on that later.
The visit was informative and positive and provided a good look at what is going on at the county, the past problems and the solutions that have been implemented. The county has come a long way in the past year.
I asked a simple question early on: has one of the most vocal critics of the county commissioners, Glenn Cordelli, or for that matter any members of the Delegation ( comprised of all 15 of the NH House Reps in Carroll County) come in and sat down with the Administrator ,Finance Director or Commissioners to ask questions or seek information,or even just visit? With the exception of Rep. Avelloni who has stopped in a number of times, the answer was no. Why is it that Cordelli, along with Rep's Umberger and McConkey, and now Comeau, the loudest anti county voices, do not feel the need to sit down and get the answers they seek?
I firmly believe that developing good working relationship with the county staff and commissioners is paramount to moving the county forward and ending the disharmony. It should be job one for the delegation. Taking the approach that the other side is the enemy is not in the best interests of constituents.
County Farm-Due to the budget cut of $90,000 to the county farm, a 22 year county employee was let go. Hay production has been down, primarily because the budget did not have sufficient funds to properly fertilize the hay fields.
Tax Rate- The county submitted the paperwork on time to the NH DRA by the September 1st deadline and now the ball is in the DRA court. The bad news for Moultonborough is that with the increase in property valuation of 4%, our total tax payment will increase by about $183,000.
Audit- Things appear to be at an impasse. The commissioners are pushing for a $20,000 targeted audit, while some of the delegation want a full blown forensic audit for $130,000 or more. If the delegation does not approve a budget transfer, no resolution will be forthcoming. It should be noted that the NH DRA when doing its review last summer, had an auditor that has expertise in fraud investigations and while she was not looking for fraud, concluded that there was no evidence of any fraudulent activities.
Dental Insurance/ Health Insurance - The right to know request from Ed Comeau has been expanded to now include all health insurance payments/claims in addition to the previously requested dental. It was discussed at yesterday's commissioners meeting.
It was confirmed that all medical and dental claims and payments are reviewed one by one by the finance director and two other individuals before approval.
Contingency Fund- The delegation did not budget any money for a contingency fund in this years budget. The implication is that if a serious need occurs, money has to be found from somewhere else in the budget from money allocated for some other purpose.
General Fund Balance- stands at a healthy $2 million. Very good news.
Nursing Home- All I can say is wow. What a beautiful facility and it is very well run by our very capable administrator Howard Chandler. The county did a good thing in building this facility. It was ranked as one of the top 100 such facilities in the USA by Medicare. Financially it is doing very well and like most of NH, is facing a nursing shortage.
All in all, a productive visit and I thank Ken, Charles and Commissioner Babson for taking the time to meet with me and for an open an productive conversation and visit.