1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com

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All Gubernatorial Candidates to Participate in Education Funding Forum.
Coalition Announces 33rd Member to Join Anti-Statewide Property Tax Group

May 14, 2002

PORTSMOUTH, NH Ė The Coalition Communities announced Tuesday that all of the gubernatorial candidates have agreed to participate in a Coalition Communities Forum on Education Funding to be held June 13 at Portsmouth City Hall.

The Coalition, which also announced Tuesday that Pittsburg had joined the group to push its membership to 33 communities opposed to the statewide property tax, formally announced the Forum at the end of a two-hour strategy session to discuss its campaign to force the next Governor and Legislature to find a long-term solution to the education funding problem.

"We also are working on a pledge that we will ask all the candidates for Governor -- and all the candidates for the State Legislature -- to sign that they will work to put an end to the unfair system that is pitting donors against receivers, forcing people from their homes and is leading to layoffs like in my own city of Portsmouth," said Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the group. "Our Coalition continues to support education of our children. But we need a long-term solution thatís fair for everyone, and doesnít take money from one child to pay for another."

The Coalition is still working out all of the details of the Forum, but it will begin at 7 p.m. and provide an opportunity for each candidate to detail his or her plans for funding education. Efforts have begun to put together an independent and knowledgeable panel to question the candidates, and citizens of the Coalition Communities will be given priority in formulating questions to be posed to the candidates by a moderator. The Coalition also is working hard to make sure that the Forum can be viewed by as many people as possible throughout the state, including making the scheduled two-hour Forum available via the Internet and broad television coverage.

With the addition of Pittsburg, the Coalitionís membership truly stretches from one end of the state to the other. The stateís northernmost community will have to "donate" $160,277 to Concord in excess property taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1, or the equivalent of $185 for every man, woman and child in the town.

Mayor Sirrell said the Forum is just one of the many steps the Coalition will be taking to ensure that education funding, and an end to the current statewide property tax system, remain atop the agenda of the next Governor and next Legislature. She noted that New Hampshire has the nationís highest reliance on property taxes to fund state, county and local governmental services.

"The statewide property tax issue will be our litmus test when we go into the voting booths in November. We are determined to ensure that this unjust tax is ended and replaced with a permanent alternative that benefits all of the children of New Hampshire without unfairly penalizing taxpayers simply on the basis of their zip codes," she said. "Our citizens need to know exactly where all these candidates stand on this very important issue that is devastating communities in our state."

The Coalition has mounted a three-pronged campaign to overturn the statewide property tax, fighting the SWPT in the Legislature, the Courts and through education. Since the passage of HB999 instituting the statewide property tax as a "temporary" measure three years ago, almost $1 billion in "new" money has been provided to 80 percent of the state's communities while the other 20 percent of towns not only didn't receive a cent -- they had to "donate" over $84 million simply on the basis of their zip codes. There also currently are 57 communities that will be receiving less in education funding than the year before because their Education Grants are tied to property values that are continuing to rise.

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 1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com