2021 Belknap County Budget

The county board of commissioners’ budget for 2021 proposes to raise property taxes by 12%. As is always the case the commissioners have provided enough padding in the budget to allow them to spend as they desire without needing to manage a budget. They are also using $2 million from fund balance (previously paid taxes).

Let’s note here that many of the county’s senior citizens will be getting a 1.3% increase in their social security.

As we know the commissioners like to compare one budget to the next in order to downplay the actual increase they are seeking. The 2020 budget was $30,829,837 which was ~$2.25 million higher than was needed to fund county operations in 2020. In other words the taxpayers were forced to pay $2.25 million more than was necessary for county operations in 2020.

Now let’s compare the 2020 spending of ~$28,600,000 to the 2021 commissioners’ request of $31,961,320. We can see here that spending would increase by 11.8%, compare that to growth (loss) in the non-government sector. Because the commissioners use the budget-to-budget scheme they can claim the increase in spending is only 4% over 2020.

While this escalation of spending is bad enough on the surface it is actually worse. The commissioners have finally removed a taxpayer gift to Community Health Services Network, LLC. from their budget. That line in 2020 was $580,000. In the end a little less than $300,000 was given to this corporation.

As we look at bringing common sense to the county budget, we should be staying within $28.3 million (28.6 million minus $300,000) with a 2% maximum for inflation. Using such a sensible method will put spending for 2021 at ~$28,900,000. Taking this reasonable projection of the funds needed to run the county shows that the commissioners have asked for $2.9 million more than is necessary.

The executive committee has gone through the budget and removed some of the fat. They have pared down the spending to $30,256,185 which is an increase in spending over 2020 of 5.6%, well above inflation. As I have said in the past, governments can only grow faster than the general economy for a short period of time before large problems force a solution upon them.

The citizens of the county have faced many challenges in 2020 from an economy disrupted by the reactions to the virus. The county has amassed a fund balance beyond the commissioners’ upper limits. A $6,000,000 fund balance is 20% of the county’s annual budget. How many of our citizens have savings of 20% of their annual salary? Few, I will guess. The executive committee has budgeted a return of $3,000,000 to the taxpayers, giving them a bit of relief while maintaining ample funds to handle any emergencies.

This is how the administration views the budget, comparing to the previous budget.

The county administration loves to obfuscate reality by comparing budget-to-budget. We know that the 2020 budget had over 2 million dollars appropriated that were not necessary. So, in order to get a proper evaluation take the 2020 budget of $30,829,837 and subtract the excess $2,250,000 to start with a realistic budget of $28,579,837. Now you will see that the commissioners’ request is an 11.8% increase. The executive committee is allowing for an actual spending increase of 5.8% which is well above inflation.

A quick review

  • Exec Comm budget increases funding to $30,256,185 (5.69% increase)
  • Exec Comm uses $3,000,000 from fund balance to offset taxes (leaving $3,000,00 in fund balance)
  • The amount to be raised by taxes is $13,145,309 a reduction of $1,625,198 (11%)
  • They also voted to restrict transfers between departments to $1,000 without Exec Comm approval

There is one more step in the budget process, bringing it to the full county delegation. The administration will fight to have more money put back into the budget. If you want to avoid higher taxes join me to have your voice heard.

Deliberation

photo by Cliff Newton
LDS letter

When one comes under attack by certain segments of the population, we sometimes respond by lumping together those people and give them a rather broad label. This is a common practice and it is unfortunate. I try to avoid such errors.

I know there are many rational thinking people, with whom I disagree, that are Democrats. Often they get tarred with the broad stroke of a brush wielded by some in the Republican party. With this in mind, I must reply to those who have a habit of responding to events without thought or the application of reason.

I stand proudly with the members of the House who voted against suspending rules on January 6th. As Representative Hough explained, we were in a parking lot in Durham in session and separated from news of the events happening in Washington at the time. Our legislature is a deliberative body, we are to think about our actions as they have an effect upon not just ourselves but also our constituents. When this vote was called, we lacked information about the events that were occurring and what would be included in the Resolution which would follow. When presented with such a vote, with insufficient information, I consider it to be irresponsible to vote in the affirmative.

I do not want this to be taken as a criticism of those who supported the motion; they may have had more information than I. This situation brings into focus the difficulties associated with remote meetings; the more closely a group meets, the better information flows through the body.

In the end the Resolution was adopted. Rep. Terry has pointed to a somewhat embarrassing problem with the Resolution. It was put together with such haste that it inadvertently condemns “all… action in Washington, D.C.” Surely we did not intent that to be included in our Resolution. When one assembles a sentence that will be recorded in history, deliberation will assure that “all violence and action in Washington, D.C.” can not be misconstrued.

Rather than shaming Representatives Comtois, Sylvia, Ploszaj, Bean, Aldrich, Silber, and Hough, those who react with outrage should pause before they fly off the handle, and look for a bit of perspective which might explain why we voted as we did. The voters of their districts are not as irrational as you might think.

Thank You

I am happy to have received a vote of confidence from the people of Belmont. I will continue to stand for the limited government our constitution guarantees to us. Together we will maintain the New Hampshire Advantage that makes Belmont such a great place to live.

I also want to thank George Condodemetraky and Don House for their efforts to bring alternative choices to our citizens. Our democratic republic thrives because of competition and we would all be poorer without George and Don. Thank you.

Election Day 2020

Belmont sample minus the socialism

For those who will be voting in person, November 3 will be an exciting day at the Belmont High School. Polls open at 7 AM and close at 7 PM. All the official details can be found at the town’s website and the sample ballot is at the Secretary of States office.

Be sure to come out Tuesday, November 3rd to defend America and the New Hampshire Advantage.

September 8th Primary

Vote Mike Sylvia

We are counting down the days until the primary and there is good news to report; there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 reported in Belmont by NH Department of Health and Human Services. If you have symptoms of the virus it is best to vote absentee or wear a mask and wash your hands if you go to the polls. The WHO reports “SARS-CoV-2 transmission appears to mainly be spread via droplets and close contact with infected symptomatic cases.”

We should remain vigilant to risk associated with COVID-19 but we do not need to live in fear. I’ll see you Tuesday at the Belmont High School between 7 a.m and 7 p.m.

Vote Mike Sylvia

Endorsed by AFP-NH

Rep Mike Sylvia

I’m honored to be included with Governor Sununu in AFP-NH’s first list of endorsed candidates. With your support and vote on September 8th in the Republican primary I’ll have the opportunity to continue my work in Concord.

“The conservative, pro-free-market group Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire is making its first-ever endorsements in political races, backing Gov. Chris Sununu and former Executive Councilor David Wheeler, along with five state House members who are seeking reelection and one former lawmaker looking to return to the House.”

NH Primary Source

Seeking Re-election

Fresh new state representatives Chuck Fink and Mike Sylvia

In 2012 I was recruited to run for office to serve as state representative for Belmont. At the time, the filing period had closed and Republicans had no candidates for both seats. I was convinced to run, and had the good fortune to meet Dr. Chuck Fink. Together we ran a write-in campaign for the primary election that September. We both shared a desire for a limited government as was beautifully documented in our constitutions. On primary day hundreds of people made the effort to write-in Fink and Sylvia. We went on to win in November, serve the people of Belmont, and become good friends.

This year Republicans are fired up. The past two years with Democrats controlling the house and senate in Concord have shown us what happens when Republicans sit out an election, and that’s not happening this year. The only thing that saved the state from becoming Massachusetts North was the governor and his willingness to risk writer’s cramp vetoing that landslide of horrible legislation.

I am running to serve my fifth term in Concord to continue to hold the line against those seeking to expand government. Over the past 8 years I have gained an in depth knowledge of the legislative process in Concord and I will put it to good use for the citizens of Belmont.

Many new state representatives learn what a county delegation is, only after their election. The primary function of the delegation is appropriating funds required for county operations. Learning the ins and outs of the county budget took a few years. I can now confidently say I know it very well. I consider every dollar spent by the county to be a dollar taken from the person with the least to give. To say I take it seriously is an absolute truism.

Having seen many come and go through the seats in Concord, one thing is clear; those who get re-elected do so because they are true to their word. People may disagree on points here and there but when your actions match your words they cannot question your integrity. I believe I meet this standard.

In 2012 the people of Belmont took a leap of faith on an unknown man willing to make a commitment. In 2018 the Belknap County delegation made me their chairman. On September 8th I ask for your support and your vote in the Republican primary.

If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

Abuse of Power

In democracy minorities are slaves.

Our NH Constitution is the foundation of our republic, without it we would have no state government. Part I of this fundamental document speaks not about the government, but of the rights reserved to the people which are not necessary to the operation of a government. The process of establishing the state government, and assigning only those powers necessary, is outlined in Part II. The reservation of rights in Part I is commonly called the bill of rights.

Part I, [Art.] 8. All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.”

If we place that in the context of rights reserved by the people, we can see that government should have no secrets. We can observe the qualification ‘unreasonably restricted’ and understand this to be a very high hurdle.

The statutes set the law enforcing Part I, Art. 8 in chapter 91-A, also called our ‘right to know’ law. It starts with a preamble: “Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.” Greatest possible access!

The House of Representative also incorporates this noble goal in its rules: “110. Open Meetings. All meetings of any committee of the House and Senate shall be open to the public subject to the provisions of N.H. RSA 91-A.”

With all of this as background, the House will again be meeting away from our historic chamber, away from public view. You see our temporary accommodations in Durham excludes the public from the arena. The substitute for the gallery is a computer screen. The view for the public is selected by a camera operator. Interaction between the representatives and the public is eliminated. Greatest possible access?

Were this this worst violation of the people’s rights, that would be bad enough. It does get worse; public hearings on tremendous mash-ups of legislation were cobbled together in the senate. Did the public have access to their senators in that process? Was it a meaningful public hearing? Was the public heard?

The majority in the House has shown its disregard for the constitution, the statutes, and their own rules. Twice this year alone they ignored the rules and when the Speaker was challenged, they demonstrate the evil of pure democracy; might makes right. They are happy to toss away any glimmer of principles and deprive the minority of the justice found in a republican form of government. When challenged on their violation of the public’s access to their government, they will happily vote away the people’s rights; majority rule is their only rule.

Recycling

The 2018 Democrat campaign theme was all about their desire for bipartisanship in government. Well, it looks like they’ll try to work that one again this year. They are going to have a slight problem with that old song and dance this year as the past two years have shown their true nature. Contrary to their words, their deeds told the truth, and their actions proved their only philosophy; my way or the highway.

If you recall their first year controlling the legislature in Concord, they pushed through legislation that would make Marx blush. Their ‘bipartisan’ efforts produced a record setting number of vetoes from the governor, almost all of them upheld by the legislature only because a 2/3 vote is required to override a veto. It’s pretty clear that their campaign promises of 2018 were nothing but hot air.

Continuing their iron fisted rule into 2020, when true efforts to work together were necessary as virus concerns short circuited all normal proceedings, they refused to include the minority in discussions toward an orderly continuation of legislative duties. Not only did their proposed calendar of business disregard Republicans, it cut out all citizens from hearings on proposed legislation. Having excluded the minority from the process their proposition was ‘take it or leave it’. With much of the legislation being retreads from round one of their record setting partisanship, it would be foolish to send this back to the governor for more vetoes. Once again I’ll be happy to claim the title of ‘obstructionist’ if the alternative is to passively accept tyranny. Not on my watch.

Unfortunately the minority will not be able to stop the D.C. styled omnibus Senate Frankenstein bills coming to us on the 30th. Call the governor, and send him some more red veto pens. We’ll need another round of vetoes to stop these monstrous abominations disguised as legislation.

The Pandemic

Friday March 13, 2020 started very early for the House of Representatives in Concord, as we where still working the session that had begun 14 hours prior to midnight. We were up late working because of the failure of the Democrat majority to properly handle the scheduling of House business. Perhaps they should have skipped the day wasted reprimanding legislators for NOT violating the House rules.

A very late night - early morning in Concord.

Earlier in the day (Thursday the 12th) there was concern that a member of the House might have been in contact with a person who may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the recent past. COVID-19 was not yet a household word but it was becoming a lead story in the news. With a push to get bills to second committees prior to crossover, we finished our session around 4 a.m. By 5:15 p.m. the Governor would declare a state of emergency to deal with the coming pandemic of COVID-19.

In mid-March of 2020 no one would question the proper coarse of action taken by the Governor. The models touted by experts warned of hospitals being overrun with seriously ill patients, many of whom would be in ICU units and require ventilators to be kept alive. At the expiration of the first declaration of the state of emergency, preparations were underway for the coming surge of COVID-19 patients, hospitals stopped taking elective procedures and furloughed doctors and nurse to be ready for the surge.

At the end of the second 21 day state of emergency, it was becoming clear that our hospitals would not be overrun with COVID-19 patients. Hospitals operated with over 90 percent of their beds available through the surge.

With many executive orders in place limiting social behavior the Governor was in a difficult position. If he did not continue the state of emergency all of the executive orders would be removed and business would be restored to its regular statutory controls. People had been terrified by the media’s exaggerated claims and would proceed with extreme caution for the most part. He viewed the option to end the state of emergency as too risky, in part because he might be targeted with responsibility for those who would die from the disease.

While the Governor wrestled with running the state from the corner office, depending on information for the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (much of which was backed by faulty models), the Democrat majority legislature sat back and only spoke up to fruitlessly sue for control of Federal funds. The abysmal reporting by the media would allow you to think the Governor prohibited the legislature from meeting. The only thing stopping the legislature from meeting was the Democrat leadership (the term used very loosely). Other than the inability to get their hands on the Federal funds they have been happy to leave all the work of managing a fading crisis in the hands of the Governor. There is little doubt in my mind that they love the precedent being set and look forward to using such powers with the flimsiest excuse in the future.

Now, at the start of June, it is very clear that this disease is almost entirely a problem affecting people in long term care facilities. Attention must be focused on the vulnerable and the rest of us need to be aware of contacts that may be connected to those facilities. We need to get on with living. Those who wish to isolate themselves waiting for a vaccine will be waiting for a very long time. The rest of us will be out building natural herd immunity and living.

House Speaker Shurtleff and Senate President Soucy have cooked up a pageant to give the appearance of ‘doing the people’s work’, by scheduling an abbreviated calendar of events to close out the session. The outcome they desire is to stuff the Democrats’ wish list into a few bills and send them off to the Governor for vetoes; campaign theatrics, pure and simple. Republicans, being in the minority, have one tool; stopping a rule change (which requires 2/3 of those voting). It is a tool that must be used to stop the sham of appearing to do the people’s work. Pretending to be productive is simply lying and wasting tax money putting on a show. Democrats will cry “obstruction”; that’s fine, stopping sewage from flowing into the lake is obstruction of which to be proud.