CITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Mayor Evelyn Sirrell's prepared remarks to the Sept. 10, 2001, New Castle public hearing on a citizen petition to invoke Article 10 of the State Constitution.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address tonight's meeting.
For the third time in less than two months, people in a Seacoast town are asking their selectmen to consider whether to invoke Article 10, and leave the state of New Hampshire over this unjust, and unequal, state property tax.
The residents of New Castle, just like the citizens of Newington and Rye … and all of the Coalition towns… are looking for ways to FIGHT BACK now that the property tax has been made permanent. Just last week, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled against us again, but that wasn't a surprise because the three judges who voted against us were all appointed by Governor Jeanne Shaheen.
The Portsmouth City Council members, just like your selectmen, and the selectmen in Rye and Newington and all the Coalition towns, have been supporting the fight against this unfair tax. In fact, the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit -- former Rye Selectman Ken Fox, Moultonborough selectman Russ Wakefield and myself -- believe so strongly in this cause that we put up our own homes as collateral for that lawsuit.
Our Coalition will be meeting later this month to discuss all of our options on how to continue this battle to the very end. But we need everyone's help to win it. We have to unite, to all work together. We can't be splitting up into this group or that. We need to pour all of our resources and all of our efforts into the Coalition's goal of overturning this tax.
It's become very that clear we can't wait for the lawmakers in Concord to wake up and realize the property tax isn't the way to go! We have to use our political power to force them to find another way to pay for education. We have to hold the candidates, and the incumbents, accountable -- whether they're Republicans or Democrats. The people's fight against this property tax must begin in Concord. We have to say: "we won't give you our votes unless you promise to fight this horrible tax. "
Our Coalition Communities are going to discuss whether to form a Political Action Committee to support candidates…. Or try to defeat them… on the property tax issue. We've already put a list on our new Web site of 20 lawmakers from coalition towns who voted to make the property tax permanent… even though their towns are financially supporting the Coalition's efforts to fight that very tax. You can find that list through the city of Portsmouth Web site.
Under this tax, our low and middle-income citizens, particularly our elderly, are in even greater danger of losing their homes. Portsmouth will have to send $3.7 million in property taxes to Concord next year. That means 20 cents of every tax dollar we collect in Portsmouth will be going right back out of the city to pay for state and county services!
I want to urge the residents of New Castle to work with our Coalition, and support us as we take this fight to Concord, and win!