The 2017 sprinkler scam fell apart pretty quickly so for 2018 the Belknap county commissioners tried a more stealthy plan to snatch a few bucks from the contingency fund.
During the Executive Committee’s review of the budget on May 11, 2018 we noticed $4,000 had been removed from the contingency fund.
As mentioned, the statute is clear; 24:13 Powers. – II. Notwithstanding any other laws to the contrary, the county convention of any county shall have the power to appropriate a contingency fund to meet the cost of unanticipated expenses that may arise during the year or to provide payment for a performance audit under RSA 28:3-b, to be expended only upon approval by the executive committee of the county delegation.
This was first time we had noticed the missing money, be assured no approval had been sought to transfer the funds.
Once again you can see that this crisis was a total contrivance, as reported in the Laconia Daily Sun, the budget for the department could hardly be stressed in April. And just to drive their scheme a touch further:
He (MacFadzen) asked for $3,000 to be transferred to cover both items.
Commission Vice Chairman Glenn Waring, who chaired Thursday’s meeting due to absence of Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy, and Commissioner Hunter Taylor, said they thought he needed more money than requested and voted to transfer $4,000 to the department.
If you are going to rob the bank why stop at $4,000?
This cute little maneuver (if you can consider such crimes as cute) inspired an inquiry to the county attorney on May 16.
On May 31, 2018 the commissioners kinda, sorta, returned the money to the contingency fund.
It is not at all clear what the ‘transfer’ was, or where the money came from. It is clear that Taylor was doing this begrudgingly and likely because the commissioners heard from the county attorney.
Our beloved local newspaper covered the story.
DeVoy said commissioners agreed to undo the transfer rather than face the prospect of a long, drawn-out legal battle with the delegation over budgetary authority.
“It wasn’t worth it. And the money isn’t needed right now anyway,” he said.
Having returned the money to the bank, the county attorney declared ‘no foul.’
I found this to be less than satisfying considering the history of abuse and forwarded this issue to the Attorney General’s office with some additional details. Somewhere in the stacks of papers in my ‘office’ there is a reply that roughly say, ‘blah, blah, blah, so what?’
Yes, there is more to come…
All the pieces in this series: