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

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Overwhelming number of wealthy NH towns are "Receivers"

June 12, 2002

PORTSMOUTH, NH – A whopping 84 percent of the New Hampshire towns with median household incomes above the state average median income of $49,467 are "Receivers" when it comes to education funding from the statewide property tax, according to government figures released Wednesday by the Coalition Communities on the eve of the group’s Education Funding Forum with all six gubernatorial candidates.

The gubernatorial candidates will be questioned by an independent panel about the education funding issue during a two-hour Forum beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday in Portsmouth City Hall. The Coalition Communities, 34 towns that are fighting to end the state’s reliance on property taxes as the sole means of funding education, are sponsoring the Forum.

The Coalition said the U.S. Census figures released this month show that 80 of the 95 communities with average household incomes above the median are receiving more in education funding from the state than they are raising within their own communities. In addition, a full 87 percent of the top 30 towns in terms of household income are "Receivers."

In every category, whether it’s the top 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 or top 50 – the percentage of "Receivers" is 80 percent or more, the Coalition noted. For example, the top four wealthiest towns -- Windham ($94,794), Hollis ($92,847), Amherst ($89,384) and Bedford ($84,392) -- are all "Receiver" towns.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are 21 Donor towns being forced to contribute education funding to other communities among the 139 towns with average household income below the median. These include Portsmouth, which must raise an extra $3.7 million to "donate" to other towns and is facing layoffs and budget cutbacks, and Moultonborough that must send $5.7 million extra for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The community with the very lowest median household income in the entire state, Lincoln at $28,523, is a "Donor" town according to the state’s formula.

"These figures dramatically prove what we have been saying all along – just because a town may have seen its property values rise and is property-rich, doesn’t mean its people are," said Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the Coalition. "This is outrageous. The people need to know, and the candidates for governor need to realize, that the current system is so unjust it’s almost incredible when you look at these numbers in black and white.

"I hope these candidates will keep these statistics in mind, and take them to heart, when they tell us how they plan to solve this problem that is driving people out of their homes and forcing towns to cut budgets and lay off people just because the Legislature imposed a system that is so patently unfair it’s almost criminal.

"I hope that the people of New Hampshire will listen carefully to these candidates on Thursday night and vote for the candidate who will best show calm, reasonable and strong leadership on this issue when he or she gets into the corner office," said the Mayor, who also is the leader of the Coalition.

Appearing at Thursday night’s Forum will be Republicans Gordon Humphrey, Bruce Keough and Craig Benson; Democrats Bev Hollingworth and Mark Fernald, and Libertarian Jobn Babiarz.

Questioning the candidates will be Doug Hall, co-executive director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies; Daphne Kenyon, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center and Jon Greenberg, senior editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. The evening’s moderator will be broadcast journalist Roger Wood. MORE

The Coalition opposes using the statewide property tax as the means of funding education, but Mayor Sirrell has emphasized that while the Coalition has an agenda – the Forum will not. The Coalition has said it plans to eventually develop a pledge to offer all the candidates for Governor and the State Legislature to sign. The pledge will not be part of Thursday’s two-hour Forum and will be formulated at a later date.

Those attending the Forum are being asked to be seated no later than 6:45 p.m. as the event will be broadcast live beginning promptly at 7 p.m. and viewed in the Portsmouth area via the Channel 22 government-access station serving the communities of Portsmouth, Rye, Greenland, Newington and New Castle. Public access stations across the state also have agreed to air a tape of the Forum broadcast. Citizens interested in viewing the tape should contact their local cable stations to express interest, as well as their local government-access stations via their town offices. A videotape of the Forum also will be made available to each of the Coalition Communities.

The Coalition Communities are Alton, Bridgewater, Carroll, Center Harbor, Dublin, Easton, Eaton, Franconia, Freedom, Grantham, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Hanover, Hart's Location, Hebron, Jackson, Lincoln, Meredith, Moultonborough, New Castle, New London, Newington, North Hampton, Pittsburg, Portsmouth, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee, Tuftonboro and Waterville Valley.


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