RAYMOND — Let me start with the Rockingham County 2012 Budget meeting.
The Delegation met on February 21st, and passed the budget as noted in Resolution 10-2012: That the Rockingham County Convention, in accordance with RSA 24:13, authorize $77,931,074.00 in appropriations and $69,966.00 in reserves and encumbrances for the use of the County during 2012. That $43,141,885.00 be raised in new county taxes, that $31,063,189.00 be accepted as an estimate of revenues from other sources, and that $3,795,966.00 is accepted as fund balance for a total of $78,001,040.00 in resources.
This appropriations/expenditures of $77.9M is a modest increase of 4% over the 2011 budget. All departments worked very hard to come in with a decrease in spending, but several things that are out of their control forced the increase, including: (a) Utilities are 74% of the maintenance portion, the contracted heating fuels increased: 22.9% for #6 oil, 32% for #2 oil, and 29.9% for LP gas, plus vehicle gas up 18-60%. Expected to come on-line around April, the Biomass plant should save us about $100K in 2012, and $350K each year thereafter. (b) $2.2M added by an old state debt. (c) With no on-call judges on weekends now, it causes an additional jail expense. We now are housing an average daily total of 300, plus we have 50-60 females housed in outside contracted facilities. Our incarcerated inmate ratio is 1 post-trial inmate to 2 pre-trial, as they await their hearings. Also, if those post-trial inmates need medical attention, while awaiting a hearing, it's an added cost, as once they have a hearing many of them do not receive any jail time.(d) Medicare is up $15M. This was caused when the federal government stopped their American Revitalization and Recovery Act (ARRA) program that ended 6/30/11.We have 78% or 168 of our 213 residents on Medicaid. (e) County salaries and benefits account for about 70% of the budget (excluding human services categorical assistance
mandated by law). (f) Registry of Deeds revenues are still down on regular sales of homes and businesses. To save money, they are now sending the transfers to the towns electronically, total averaging around $57K a year. As a note: the foreclosures are still high: January 2011 had 39, whereas January 2012 had 63. With banks having held back from releasing foreclosures for a period, and now letting them go, this foreclosure high volume will continue for awhile.
When the Delegation meeting started, we only had 48 representatives present, with 5 or 6 coming in late, and a couple leaving as the meeting progressed. This attendance is disgraceful, with 89 representatives currently in the county. Luckily, we only needed 46 to make a quorum. Again I ask you, was your representative there? Ask them: we are
talking about your tax dollars here.
So if the news media is talking about the economy turning around and the housing market bottoming out, why are the Deed revenue down? I believe the market has not bottomed out. Many homes were bought in the big "dream of home ownership" era of no down-payment, very low interest rate, but with high home price and a big mortgage.
Now with the economy down, people out of work or making less money, the percentage of their total family income needed to make the monthly payment is unsustainable. So you have to sell or be foreclosed upon.
With the amount of houses currently available on the market, both new, used, and being foreclosed on, I feel it will take quite some time to clear the excess, so building of new houses can start once again. Remember, home building and manufacturing are two key elements to a good economy, and the economy won't improve until this building begins. I understand, home prices have declined 36%.
Don't forget: those interested in helping out with the Raymond 4th of July Parade this year, our organizational meeting will be held at New Life Assembly
of God Church, on March 13th, at 7:00 p.m. Please come - we can use the help.
(Editor's Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at email@example.com.)