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State veterans home’s budget process to get more oversight

State lawmakers yesterday called on the New Hampshire Veterans Home’s board of managers to take charge of the facility’s budgeting process, hoping to avoid a repeat of the last budget session, when the home was found to be more than $300,000 in debt.

The residence in Tilton houses 191 state veterans who were honorably discharged after serving in active duty in the armed forces or in the New Hampshire National Guard. It operates on a budget of about $27 million annually.

But that budget, for years, has been written by staff and forwarded to the governor’s office without review from the governor-appointed board of managers.

The home also doesn’t have any written policies or procedures for its budget process or approval.

Commandant Margaret LaBrecque and the board of managers said they agree with the audit writers that those policies and a budget review process are needed. They also concurred that the board should review comprehensive monthly financial reports, and the home should follow the state’s process for supplemental appropriations when facing budget deficits.

LaBrecque, who became commandant at the home last January, told the joint fiscal committee that she and her staff are ready to work with the board and adopt the policies to move forward.

The board is ready to assume more duties, too, said member Paul Lloyd of Concord.

“I have full faith of the staff up there, but I think with more eyes, things will be caught sooner than . . . where we have to legislate different policies,” Lloyd said.

From now on, he said, it’s the job of the board to “make sure that all the policies that are in place are followed and that the veterans up there get the best care without any hiccups, without anything wrong.

“And hopefully,” he added, “we can keep the Tilton home out of the newspapers with exceptions of only the good news.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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