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County Farm Manager defends wood processor request

County delegation reviews 2013 budget requests by county departments

COUNTY ATTORNEY ROBIN GORDON reviews her 2013 budget request with County Delegation subcommittee members Rep. Steve Schmidt (R-Wolfeboro, left) and Chairman Rep. Mark McConkey (R-Freedom) on Jan. 7. (click for larger version)
January 17, 2013
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Farm Supervisor Will DeWitte is just one of many who have met with the county budget subcommittee but, so far, his defense of his budget needs has been the most passionate.

Department heads submitted their 2013 budget requests for each of their county departments last fall, the county commissioners whittled the budgets down to a bottom line they were comfortable with, and now it's up to the county delegation to come to agreement and pass a finalized annual budget by March. As part of that process the delegation, made up of the county's 15 state representatives, formed subcommittees that are charged with learning the responsibilities and needs of their assigned departments. The subcommittees are then going to represent their budget recommendations to the full delegation.

Rep. Mark McConkey (R-Freedom) chairs the subcommittee that will handle a long list of departments including the County Farm, County Attorney's office, Registry of Deeds, and regional appropriations requested of the county by non-profit organizations. Steve Schmidt (R-Wolfeboro), Tom Buco (D-Conway) and Susan Ticehurst (D-Tamworth) join McConkey on the subcommittee.

DeWitte oversees the county farm, grounds maintenance at the county complex, and the county water system that serves the complex and Ossipee Corner Village. Overall, DeWitte's proposed 2013 budget is the same as last year but he's also hoping the delegation will support his request to purchase a new wood processor at a cost of $65,000. "The wood processor we have has done a good job but is 10 years old. This fall we had a problem and had to call Canada to order the part. There are only two people in their shop that speak English and it took six weeks to get the part," said DeWitte. He added he is looking to purchase a wood processor that is manufactured in Vermont and parts are locally accessible.

In 2012, DeWitte said, processing firewood that was then sold by the cord or bagged and sold to state park campgrounds brought in $40,000 in gross revenue. It was incorrectly previously reported that the wood was cut from the county property and then processed. In fact, $14,500 was paid to order a load of logs that were then processed. Using inmate and county farm staff labor about 100 cords of wood were processed in 2012.

DeWitte said he is not planning to increase the amount of firewood that is processed but rather hopes to make the operation run more efficiently.

McConkey challenged DeWitte to consider all of the costs related to processing the firewood to get an exact profit figure. McConkey said all costs need to be considered including labor, gasoline, oil, and the cost of operating and future replacement of the truck that is used to deliver the firewood. "We're not really netting $20,000 a year," said McConkey.

Other County News

Karen Umberger (R-Conway) chairs the subcommittee that oversees the budgets of the administration building, human resources, capital expenditures, and others. She said at the subcommittee's Jan. 11 meeting that she is in favor of the hiring of a Carroll County's first county administrator to manage the day-to-day operations and she is in favor of contracting with a company to complete a performance evaluation that determines if the county government is operating efficiently. At least two other New Hampshire counties have had such a study done. Coos County paid about $26,000 for their study and Grafton County paid $40,000.

Sheriff Domenic Richardi attended the county commissioners' Jan. 9 meeting to introduce his newly-hired second-in-command Chief Deputy Rich Young. He also told commissioners that he plans to make it a regular practice to attend the weekly commissioners meeting to report on happenings in his department. When asked if Richardi plans to keep the department's part-time prosecutor that former Sheriff Chris Conley hired, Richardi said he plans to phase out that position within the month. In the future, full-time deputies will be handling prosecuting the department's cases as needed. As for the two military surplus Humvees that Conley acquired last year, Richardi said one is in a garage on the complex ready to tow the communications trailer if needed. The other one is being stored at Wakefield Police Department. Richardi said he plans to get rid of at least one of the vehicles.

In a sticking point that's already raised the ire of the subcommittee and will likely resulted in heated discussion at the delegation table, it has been revealed that the pellet boiler installed in the old county nursing home is not doing what everyone thought it would. It has come as a surprise to delegates as well as commissioners in recent weeks that while the pellet boiler is heating and providing hot water to the new nursing home and it is heating the old home, it is not hooked up to heat the hot water for the laundry room. That room is also located in the old nursing home and provides laundry service to the nursing home and jail. Umberger chastised the commissioners for not paying attention to detail. She said they should have realized the laundry hot water was not included in the $375,000 pellet boiler hook-up contract. She asked commissioners to get an estimate on adding a hookup as soon as possible.

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