What the State Can Do About Local Property Taxes
The debate over the state budget comes down to one question: Should businesses get yet another tax cut? Or should you? We could get lower property tax bills if the state sent more of the money it collects to school districts and towns.
The state took over collecting business taxes from towns many years ago. It was agreed that the state would share the money it collected with the towns. One of the most shocking things I learned when I was a State Representative in 2013-14 is that the state has not been giving towns and municipalities their agreed upon share of state tax revenues.
- When the rooms and meals tax was first passed the state was supposed to send 40% of the money to the towns. Over the last ten years the amount the state pays the towns has fallen to just 21%. Imagine the difference that could make in Derry’s budget.
- Since 1977 the state was to pay 35% of the employer’s share for pensions for teachers, police, and firefighters. In 2010, the state started to decrease its share, and in 2013, it stopped paying altogether. Leaving towns to make up the difference.
- After the 2008 recession, the state stopped paying its share of town drinking water and wastewater treatment upgrades, leaving a $53 million bill for the participating towns to pay.
- In 2010, the state stopped sharing money from general revenues, the majority of which comes from business taxes. This has resulted in the loss of $25 million per year to towns.
- The state has cheated towns out of $44 million per year over the last ten years, and there is no end in sight.
Source: NHMA Analysis: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.
The state has cheated towns like Derry for far too long. At the same time, the legislature has decreased business taxes three times in the last five years. And they’re scheduled to decrease business taxes again in 2022.
Source: NH Dept of Revenue Administration
Last year the state sent a one-time payment to schools and towns. That was nice (especially because they promised it to us a long time ago) but it would help a lot more if they sent what they owe us every year.
This failure to fulfill its promises is infuriating. And now we can expect that with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, the state will once again have difficulty balancing its budget. As your representative, we must fight to make sure the they don’t balance the state budget on the backs of local property taxpayers.
Derry doesn’t have the option of failing to pay for the pensions of our police officers, firefighters, and teachers. We cannot refuse to fund our schools. We can’t cheat our town employees out of fair wages or fail to protect our water supply. No. Unlike the state, we have obligations we must fulfill.
The next time a politician tells you about their “No New Taxes” pledge, ask them what they are doing to make the state pay what it owes towns and municipalities, so our property taxes don’t go up.
Together we must stand up for local property taxpayers. I hope you will join the fight. I’m tired of seeing my property taxes go up every year while large businesses get huge tax breaks. This has got to stop!