Jan. 10, 2002                                                                                                                                                       For more information:

For Immediate Release                                                                                                             Contact: Ted Jankowski, 431-2006, Ext.222                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


CONCORD, NH -- The Coalition of Communities fighting to overturn the statewide property tax has now grown to 31 with the addition of Tuftonboro, Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell announced Thursday as the Coalition urged bipartisan support of a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate "donor" communities.


Mayor Sirrell, the leader of the Coalition that held its monthly working meeting on Thursday, also announced Portsmouth is prepared to host a Coalition Communities political forum in the Spring where all the gubernatorial candidates will be invited to answer questions regarding the statewide property tax issue.


"This will be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to really put these candidates' feet to the fire on this issue before the November elections," said Mayor Sirrell.


Tuftonboro becomes the fourth "donor" community in a month to join the Coalition's three-pronged attack on the statewide property tax. The community of 2,148 will be required to send $1,126,999 to Concord for the fiscal year beginning next July 1 -- the equivalent of $525 for every man, woman and child in town. In the past month, the towns of Sugar Hill, Easton and Center Harbor also have signed on to the Coalition's campaign to overturn the statewide property tax.


Representatives of the Coalition Communities said Thursday they hope Democrats, Republicans and Independents, alike, will support the proposed  "hold harmless" constitutional amendment. The amendment, which has not yet been formally introduced in the recently reconvened Legislature, would prevent any  community from being 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.  In addition, the Coalition continues to support the outright reversal of the statewide property tax made permanent in June, and is waging a campaign in the Legislature, through statewide education and if necessary, future court challenges.


"In the past three years since the statewide property tax was imposed, the overall per capita tax burden in donor towns -- including both county and state taxes -- has increased a whopping seven times as much as it has in the other towns in our state," Mayor Sirrell said. "This is a gross injustice that our Legislature must rectify!"


Currently, there are 57 communities across New Hampshire 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 must "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 is described as a "common-sense approach" that is very narrowly targeted.


                The Coalition Communities 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, Portsmouth, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee, Tuftonboro. and Waterville Valley.