This will be my last commissioner's column since I decided not to run for re-election as the District 3 Coos County commissioner. I was privileged and honored to serve the voters of District 3 for eight years and extend my thanks to the voters for their support. I tried, and hope I served them well.
I would like to first thank my wife, Linda, for all her support, help and encouragement during the eight years. Next, I would like to thank all the individuals from Dalton to Pittsburg who gave of their time, advice, expertise and other support. These are the people that made my job as a commissioner successful.
To the individuals on the Farm Advisory Committee and former representatives Moynihan and Rideout, a special thank you for saving the Coos County barn and land. My hope is the barn and land will remain a valuable asset to Coos County.
Coos County has some of the most dedicated, honest and hard-working employees in the county and state. I wish to personally thank them for their dedication especially during these trying times.
My goal as a commissioner has always been to serve the taxpayers, residents of our nursing facilities, the employees of Coos County and District 3, all to the best of my ability.
I support the use of ATV's in our county but not the manner in which the ATV community has disregarded the non-ATV residents of our county. This group's lack of consideration and willingness to work with the residents and taxpayers negatively effected by the ATV's does not fairly address the issues that have risen.
I also do support the rebuilding of the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel but not with the current plans or owners especially putting the taxpayers at risk. I believe that the rebuilding should not include the name of the Balsams.
Some questions that should be answered are: No. 1. What exactly has been done to maintain all the current structures? No. 2. What has been done to and with the land, including the timber? No. 3. What is the current value of the entire Balsams property? And No. 4. What happened to the $600,000+ of the oriental furniture and artifacts that was in the Balsams lobby?
One could question why the Coos County Planning Board did not request a complete financial accounting of what has actually been spent by the previous owners since it was purchased for approximately $2.3 million. The New Hampshire Business Finance Authority requested those figures, but the owners then decided to withdraw their request for the financing before releasing those figures.
It should be questioned after eight or more years of delays when there appears to be a new scheme to rebuild the Balsams.
Again, I believe that the new owners and/or investors should not use the Balsams name. When Neil Tillotson and the four managing partners owned and managed the Balsams they cared for the hotel, the employees, the guests and the local economy. Their honesty, hard work and being part of our community was an essential part of the Balsams success as a community partner.
The taxpayers of Coos County should not be put at risk or used to gamble on the success of such a risky venture especially during such uncertain times.
The Coos County budget this year is approaching $48 million for a county of approximately 33,119 people. This is compared to to Grafton County's budget of $48,527,310 with 89,886 people, is our budget then reasonable ? I have to admit I voted for this year's budget.
Coos County has three locations for our county government with rent being paid for our registry of deeds, our sheriff's department and county attorney at the courthouse in Lancaster.
Our taxpayers cannot continue to sustain a budget of this proportion. I have asked at various meetings how many of our elected officials have trouble paying their tax bills, especially the county portion. I have not received an answer to this question.
I know older people and younger couples as well that are having trouble with paying their property taxes. It seems Coos County has no long-range plans for the future or how to reduce costs for our taxpayers. Status quo cannot continue to finance the cost of county government.
I have served our country in the military for over 26 years, as a selectman, budget committee member, planning board member and moderator, all as a public servant, and believe that term limits are necessary.
As public servants we sometimes forget that we are elected to serve all our residents and act in their best interests. We are not elected to serve OUR OWN interests.
A house divided against itself cannot stand, Mark 3:25. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "And my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
My prayer is for our nation to repent and ask God to heal our nation.
Rick Samson was a Coos County commissioner from District 3.