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County Delegation signs off on budget

April 03, 2019
OSSIPEE — At 9:02 p.m. on Friday, March 29, there was a sigh of relief as the Carroll County Delegation voted to approve the $33.2 million budget for 2019.

News spread quickly across the County complex and social media, with nursing home employees celebrating the vote, which includes pay raises for the facility's unionized workforce.

The 15-member delegation was on track to set a record for early budget approval. The subcommittees had spent two months fine-tuning their respective budgets. But when the group met March 4, it was clear there was more work to do. They met three more times in March. When it came to the March 28 meeting, they were ready to hear how the county commissioners would respond to their demand that just over $800,000 needed to be cut.

County Administrator Ken Robichaud did not present cuts but rather what he called a "hybrid proposal," restoring the $300,000 for the registry of deeds record restoration and archival work, using more money from the county's surplus (often called rainy day fund) and boosting the anticipated revenue projections.

The delegation agreed in an 11-2 vote with Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield) and Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro) opposed. Rep. Lino Avellani (R-Wakefield) and Rep. Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield) were absent for the vote. Cordelli was concerned about using too much surplus money to offset any tax increases because the 2018 audit is not complete. A few years ago, the county had drained the surplus and had to go to vote a supplemental $2 million budget just to meet payroll.

"We saw what happened years ago when we were using unaudited numbers, and we ended up with a deficit one year," said Cordelli. "By masking spending increases by using surplus and over-budgeting, I think is a mistake."

There was a move by the Democratic-majority delegation to cut all funding for historic records preservation but, hoping instead that they can simply change the law that requires counties to preserve the records. Rep. Jerry Knirk (D-Freedom) pointed out that the law was written in 1975, before all of the digital record retention technology of today was created.

"We are not a historical society, and we're not an art museum, so recording the actual document as a work of art or a work of history isn't as important as recording the information," said Knirk. "Recording on microfilm and digitally might be satisfactory."

The delegation is expected to meet next late-April to early-May to hear a presentation of the performance audit findings and review the first quarter 2019 expense and revenue reports.

Martin Lord Osman
Tiffany Eddy
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