The Coalition Communities
A.lton..Bridgewater..Eaton..Franconia..Freedom..Grantham..Greenland..Hampton.. Hampton Falls ..Hanover
Hart's Location.. Hebron..Jackson..Lincoln..Meredith..Moultonborough..New Castle…New London…Newington
North Hampton.. Portsmouth..Rye.. Sandwich.. Seabrook.. Stoddard.. Sunapee.. Waterville Valley
C/o Ted Jankowski, City of Portsmouth, Deputy City Manager, Municipal Complex, Portsmouth, NH, 03801
Telephone: (603) 431-2006, Ext. 222 Fax: (603) 427-1575 E-Mail:Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com
COALITION COMMUNITIES SUPPORT "HOLD HARMLESS" CONSTITUTIONAL BILL, ADD MEMBER
For Immediate Release Dec. 4, 2001
CONCORD, NH -- Representatives from the Coalition Communities, which grew Tuesday to 28 towns fighting to overturn the statewide property tax, unanimously expressed support for a proposed constitutional amendment eliminating "donor" communities just hours before the House Rules Committee agreed to allow its introduction in the legislative session reconvening in January.
A draft of the "hold harmless" provision says "no political subdivision shall be required to raise or remit to the state, through taxation of real property, fund in excess of the amount required to support the cost of adequate education for pupils in such political subdivision." Under the proposed constitutional amendment, no community would be forced to send to Concord more property taxes than the state, under its formula, has determined is necessary to provide an adequate education to the children in that community.
The House has a rule that no new legislation can be introduced in the second year of the biennium unless permitted by the Rules Committee, making Tuesday's vote a procedural victory for supporters.
Following a two-hour closed meeting of the Coalition, its leader -- Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell -- told a news conference that "our Coalition is very strong" in supporting the proposed constitutional amendment.
"But we are not putting all of our eggs in one basket," she said, adding that the Coalition will continue to fight the statewide property tax through new legislation to overturn it outright, through statewide education and if necessary, future court challenges.
She and others spoke of the hardships the tax is causing in their communities. "The statewide property tax is senior citizen cleansing -- it taxes them to death and drives them out of their homes, " said Sunapee Selectman William Roach.
Currently, there are 57 communities across New Hampshire that are forced to send Concord more funding than they receive because their communities are property-rich even if their citizens are not. And as of next July 1, for example, Moultonborough will be forced to "donate" $5.7 million -- the equivalent of $1,272 for every man, woman and child in the town. Portsmouth -- which ranks near the top of the state in subsidized housing and free and reduced lunches for poor children -- will be sending $3.7 million, or $179 per capita.
A constitutional amendment must pass both houses by a 60 percent margin, and be approved by the state electorate by a two-thirds vote, which could come as early as next November. The proposal was described as a "common-sense approach" that is very narrowly targeted. Coalition members said they would work with the Legislature and fellow citizens to continue to find a solution to the education funding program, and emphasized that the Coalition supports funding an adequate education, but opposes the unfairness of the statewide property tax.
Also Tuesday, Sugar Hill Board of Selectman Chairman Richard Bielefield announced that his community of 563 people will be joining the Coalition. Sugar Hill will be required to "donate" $103,066 to Concord for the next fiscal year, or $183 for every man, woman and child in town.
The Coalition Communities are Alton, Bridgewater, Eaton, Franconia, Freedom, Grantham, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Hanover, Hart's Location, Hebron, Jackson, Lincoln, Meredith, Moultonborough, New Castle, New London, Newington, North Hampton, Portsmouth, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee and Waterville Valley.