To the Editor:
This year’s Carroll County budget increases the amount to be raised by taxes 6.8 percent. This is on top of last year’s 13 percent increase in expenses, which was offset using surplus fund balance. County spending has increased by 20 percent over a two year period! Partly, this surplus was accumulated in years when the county was managed frugally with expenses coming in under budget – that’s a good thing. But its increase in recent years is a result of budgeting for more spending than is actually planned – a practice that this year is especially hurtful to taxpayers. Last year, this surplus was spent so that taxpayers would not see the spending increase. Now I’m afraid times will be hard for a lot of people – and our county property taxes are rising just when we can least afford it.
In last week’s edition of The Granite State News, Rep. Cordelli of Tuftonboro discussed his fiscally and socially responsible budget that was originally passed, but then later overturned, by the county delegation. Our delegation could have kept the budget at 2019 levels – a budget which ended up having $2.5 million that was never spent. Yes, some priorities have changed, but line item transfers could have accommodated that. As Rep. Cordelli wrote in his letter, the budget he submitted “showed adjustments and addition of probable priorities such as a new domestic violence prosecutor[,] and still stayed under the 2019 [spending] level.” We believe this was a great idea and the responsible thing to do considering our current circumstances.
Evidently, the majority disagreed, instead saying that we have a number of services that needed to be expanded right now, during this crisis. This is misleading because we are still running the same nursing home, courts and jail we have for years. We aren’t getting any new services. The majority of our budget increases have gone towards our county employees’ pay, benefits, or hiring more county employees. Now responsibly increasing county employee pay or benefits is not an issue, and even hiring some more employees is not always a fiscal detriment. For instance, a full complement of nurses at Mountain View reduces the number of temps needed and ultimately saves money. But how many local taxpayers expect to make 20 percent more money in 2020 than in 2018? Some families might have to choose between buying food, paying the mortgage, or paying the property taxes. This increase is unsustainable!
The Chair of the Delegation, Rep. DesMarais of Wolfeboro, stated in last week’s edition of The Granite State News that “a time of crisis is not the time to cut resources from programs addressing critical needs…” However, Rep. Cordelli’s budget did not cut spending. It kept it the same! It kept the extra $2.5 million dollars to be used for the new “essential” spending Representative DesMarais and her colleagues want. It did not roll back last years spending increases. And it did all this without raising our taxes. It did what a budget should do: maximize our services while being frugal with our hard earned cash.
Rep. DeMarais seems to claim that the county’s spending will help fight the pandemic, but Town Health Officers and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services are those who address public health. This is not a function of county government.
Rep. DeMarais, when so many people have to stay home and cannot work, are you really helping them by taking more of their money in property taxes – especially taking money you know will become next year’s surplus?
Rep. William Marsh, Brookfield Rep. John MacDonald, Wolfeboro Brodie Deshaies, Wolfeboro