Forum, Dec. 22: Changing NH’s mode of taxation is the solution

Published: 12/21/2020 10:00:18 PM
Modified: 12/21/2020 10:00:13 PM
Changing NH’s mode of taxation is the solution

Ramzi Hraibi decries the decision by the Lebanon City Council to not accept the recommendation of Citizens for Sustainable Taxes to lower the municipal tax rate by 20% over the next five years (“City Council ignored concerns about taxes,” Dec. 19). He suggests we need to change council composition in the next election or leave the area.

Taxes are the cost to citizens for their quality of life — there is no free lunch when it comes to having a safe, healthy environment for us and our loved ones. New Hampshire ranks second in the 2020 World Population Review in the admittedly subjective quality-of-life ratings that include factors such as health care, education, economy, crime and more. The resources required for this obviously come from taxes.

New Hampshire has the fifth-lowest total tax load of all 50 states. Citizens contribute about 6.9% of their income to pay for their top-quality living environment. Only Alaska (5.1% burden, 44th in quality of life), Delaware (5.5%, 23rd), Tennessee (6.28%, 30th) and Florida (6.6%, 13th) have lower tax loads. When picking your place to move to escape the unbearable fifth-to-the-lowest tax burden, recognize that there will be a reduction in quality of life.

If leaving is not an option, how can we reduce our admittedly high property tax burden?

New Hampshire ranks No. 1 in dependence on property taxes to fund quality of life. This is grossly unfair to folks who are getting priced out of their homes. New Hampshire ranks 42nd in average income tax burden (we tax interest and dividend income), and 48th in total sales and excise taxes.

Get the picture? Extremely low income and sales taxes lead to extremely high property taxes.

The solution offered by Citizens for Sustainable Taxes apparently is to reduce the quality of life by reducing property taxes — or move.

How about a sensible and fair change in the mode of taxation to shift the burden to a real income tax (fair) and/or a sales tax (not so fair)? Consider this when you next go to the polls.



Thanks for this bright beacon of collaboration

In a partnership between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, bridged by human need and creativity, Headlamps for Mental Health is a beacon for collaboration among unlikely organizations.

As the December days grew cold, short and dark, and the pandemic’s stressors grew, West Central Behavioral Health patients still needed care from their community-based clinicians. But moving indoors, face-to-face, was too unnerving for many. Thus was born the idea to use headlamps to light the way so patients and clinicians could stay outdoors for treatment. It was getting cold, but COVID-19 safety concerns dictated we keep patients safe.

We found a bright light in partnership with Upper Valley Strong and Greater Sullivan Strong, which responded quickly to our requests for funding. Then, Eastern Mountain Sports in West Lebanon graciously offered a discount, allowing us to purchase enough headlamps to go around. Now we can visit and treat children after school, and adults after work, when the daylight dims — outdoors, to be safe, of course.

To these nonprofit and for-profit co-collaborators, I offer my generous appreciation. And to all individuals, businesses, foundations, fellow nonprofit organizations, cities, towns and counties that continue to support our work and mission to treat at-risk friends and neighbors with mental illness and substance use disorders, please know everyone at West Central offers a broad smile of thanks — even if covered by a mask of safety and a headlamp to light the way.

As we move into 2021, let’s all become more vocal about mental illness as the treatable illness it is — just like cancer or diabetes or COVID-19. We can inoculate ourselves against stigma by being open-minded and telling people who need help to contact us. (West Central’s emergency crisis line is 1-800-564-2578.) Your conversations encouraging others to seek treatment is the next vaccine needed. Happy holidays and best wishes for a bright New Year.



The writer is director of development and community relations for West Central Behavioral Health.

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