Coalition Adds 3 New Towns to Property Tax Fight


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          Contact: Ted Jankowski, Deputy City Manager

Dec. 27, 2001                                                                                                                    431-2006, Ext. 222


PORTSMOUTH -- Three new "donor" towns have joined the Coalition of Communities in less than a month, bringing to 30 the number of towns that have banded together to fight the statewide property tax, and still more are strongly considering joining the cause, Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell announced Thursday.


Center Harbor and Easton are the latest to announce their decisions to join, following Sugar Hill's announcement Dec. 4 that it would be part of the Coalition.  Dublin's selectmen are putting the question of joining to their voters, while other towns also are considering being part of the Coalition's new three-pronged attack against the tax by fighting it in the Legislature, through education and in the courts.


"This shows how much the outrage is continuing to grow over this unjust tax that is forcing people out of their homes and forcing communities to cut back or eliminate municipal services," said Mayor Sirrell.


"In Fiscal Year 2003, there will be 55 towns ordered to send property tax money to Concord for redistribution to other towns that easily could have been put to good use within their own borders to provide such services as increased police and fire protection and education," the Mayor continued. "In addition, another 57 so-called 'receiver' towns will be receiving less in education funding, requiring them to make up the shortfall by either raising more property taxes or cutting back on services.


"When with these horrible inequities end? Over the past three years, 80 percent of the towns in New Hampshire received $1.2 billion in new school funding while the other 20% not only received absolutely nothing, they also had to send millions to Concord. This isn't an education plan, it's a tax plan, and a bad one at that," Mayor Sirrell said.


The Coalition plans to meet in January to discuss strategy for challenging the statewide property tax in the Legislature, which is reconvening Jan. 2.  


"We need everybody -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- to join together to address the grave injustice of this donor town issue," said Mayor Sirell. "We believe a constitutional amendment to hold harmless the donor towns so they don't have to send more education money to Concord than they receive deserves serious consideration and bipartisan support. At the same time, we are not giving up our fight to have the Legislature completely overturn this horrendous tax once and for all." 


Center Harbor, home to 996 people, will have to send $778,220 -- the equivalent of $781 for every man, woman and child in the town -- to Concord for the fiscal year beginning next July 1. Easton's 256 residents will have a $74 per capita commitment, or $18,992. Sugar Hill Board of Selectman Chairman Richard Bielefield earlier announced that his community of 563 people would join the Coalition. Sugar Hill must "donate"  $103,066 to Concord in Fiscal Year 2003.


Portsmouth is the largest of the Coalition of Communities that first joined forces in 1999 to fight the statewide property tax.  The others are Alton, Bridgewater, Center Harbor, 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, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee and Waterville Valley.