N.H. raises town, College taxes

by Amit Anand | 11/8/99 6:00am

In a last ditch effort to fund the state's education budget, the New Hampshire legislature passed a new property tax on Wednesday that will result in a significantly higher tax rate for both the Town of Hanover and the College.

According to Dartmouth's Director of Administrative Services Marcia Colligan, the College's taxes increased by 15.5 percent, while the town of Hanover's bill increased by 9.8 percent.

The College paid just over a $1 million in property taxes last July, said Colligan. The new tax will result in an increase of approximately $105,000, she said.

Taxes on the new properties bought by Dartmouth from the Town of Hanover this past summer will not be affected by the tax increase until the purchases are finalized.

Hanover's taxes will increase by roughly 10 percent from $22.35 to $24.42 per $1,000 worth of property, Town Manager Julia Griffin said.

The new tax bill replaces one that had been enacted earlier this year, and is widely considered a temporary tax plan that will allow New Hampshire schools and town halls to continue operation through the next year.

The earlier bill was ruled unconstitutional by the New Hampshire Supreme Court because it provided relief for the richer communities, State Senator Clifton Below '78 said.

"The property rich communities effectively had a lower rate than the poorer communities," he said. "The new tax is equal in rate and uniform in value, which is what the Supreme Court wanted."

Hanover is one of the property rich towns in the state, and is the fourth largest community donor to the statewide pool of education funds.

Griffin criticized the tax -- which will expire on January 2, 2003 -- claiming it will not solve the long-term budget needs of the state.

She predicted the tax will become the central issue in the next gubernatorial election and indicated that any significant tax increases will force all taxpayers to consider whether the property tax is the best way to fund education.

Below was also critical of the use of the tax revenues.

"We continue to try to fund education through the property tax, which is inherently archaic," Below said. "Two years from now, because of the gaps in the funding, the tax will have to be increased to 10 or 11 dollars instead of the currently proposed six dollars and 80 cents."

Below said a property tax hurts retired people since their income drops but the value of their property remains the same. A statewide income tax would be more reliable and stable, he said.

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