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Salary offer and the 2014 budget occupy county commissioners


December 05, 2013
OSSIPEE — County Commissioner Asha Kenney once again pressed the issue of what she calls a fraudulent salary agreement concocted solely at the discretion of one commissioner, but her fellow commissioners again brushed off her concerns at their Nov. 27 meeting.

As reported last week, Kenney pointed to the June 12 commissioner's meeting when it was voted on by the board that the new human resource director would begin work July 15 with an annual salary of $53,000. That salary would increase to $55,000 at the end of a six-month probationary period pending a positive performance evaluation.

That was not the agreement, however, that Commissioner David Sorensen signed with the new hire. Instead, his was the sole signature on an "offer letter" stating she would receive a salary of $58,000 after six months and $60,000 after a year of employment with the county.

Sorensen said on Nov. 27 that the commissioners left it up to him to negotiate, but that was clearly not the case as evidenced by a review of the June 12 commissioner's meeting video on www.governmentoversite.com. Babson backed up Sorensen's assertion that Sorensen was given permission to negotiate but neither offered any proof that this was the case. The only proof that exists for the public review is that June 12 meeting video.

In other county commissioner's meeting news, the board's proposed 2014 budget has been finalized and is posted on the Carroll County website at www.carrollcountynh.net. The county delegation has scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 16 starting at 9 a.m. at the Carroll County Administration Building in Ossipee. According to the meeting advertisement, "all citizens are invited to attend and ask questions concerning the Commissioner's proposed 2014 County Budget." Further, the budget is available for public review at the commissioner's office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The proposed budget is up about nine percent over the 2014 budget and does not yet include any increases in health insurance costs or union salary increases. The total, without the increases, is $28,286,516, up about $500,000 over last year's budget.

The most notable part of the budget is the commissioners' decision to add $355,000 to capital funds, money that can only be withdrawn after approval from the delegation again later in the year when the time comes for the money to actually be spent. Despite suggestion that fireproof file cabinets could be used instead, $5,000 has been added to one of these funds for the purpose of purchasing a safe to store County records at Kenney's request. Rep. Tom Buco (D-Conway) has, according to Babson, agreed to sponsor legislation to change the 1855 state law that requires the county to have a safe, adding a provision that fireproof file cabinets could be used instead.

In another capital fund, the commissioners have voted to set aside $30,000 for the implementation of an electronic file storage system for the business office and archived county documents. Despite Finance Manager Kathy Garry saying at a recent meeting that this file storage is unnecessary, Babson stuck to the opinion he has long held, that electronic file storage "is the way to go."

For the future purchase of a new plow truck for the County complex, $20,000 has been set aside in a capital fund. And lastly, despite Carroll County Sheriff Domenic Richardi's plea that the money be left in his budget rather than in a capital fund, the board sided with Garry and opted to put $300,000 in a capital fund for upgrades to the county dispatching communication system.

Ultimately, the decision of what the county budget will be is up to the county delegation. There will be the Dec. 16 public hearing and then starting in January, delegation subcommittees are expected to start meeting with their assigned departments to further dissect the budgets and make recommendations to the full delegation. That board then has to agree to the final budget to submit to NH Department of Revenue Administration by March 31.

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