Forum, May 17: N.H.’s reliance on property taxes is crazy, regressive

Thursday, May 16, 2019
N.H.’s reliance on property taxes is crazy, regressive

Something needs to be done. Our property taxes continue to spiral out of control to the point of an extra car or mortgage payment monthly. In Grafton, our tax rate for 2018 was $28.79 per $1,000 of assessed value. The educational rate, including local and state portions, was $21.09. That is 73% or our property tax.

How can a town like mine afford anything for our community when the average homeowner pays more than $3,500 annually just for education? New Hampshire’s totally out-of-proportion tax schedule creates situations in which communities struggle over issues such as whether to fix the floor of the police station or finally install a bathroom in the 100-year-old library. And then, when a town truck breaks down, well, it ain’t pretty. It would be so nice for our community members at Town Meeting to be able to discuss building a gazebo or creating a park instead of the scuffle to stretch a paper-thin budget to fix a roof.

The biggest issue I have with the state’s reliance on property tax for education is its regressive nature. Never mind about income level, what’s the incentive for improving the function and beauty of your home? Yeah, it’s worth more to sell. But for those with no plans to leave who just want to make a nice home in their hometown, the increase in property taxes can be a real impediment.

I’m a firm believer in public education. I think if we did away with private schools altogether, we’d have a better social fabric. But there has to be better way to fund it. Other states have all kinds of taxes, and most of them still have considerable property taxes, so let’s take a good look at that and use our “New Hampshire advantage” to create a better plan. The reliance on property taxes is great for the wealthy, but for those of us who just want a decent home we afford, it’s a crazy catch-22. The state of New Hampshire can and should do better.



Prosecutors’ letter validates claims of obstruction

I see that the sentiments I expressed in my March 29 letter (which you didn’t publish), sent immediately after Attorney General William Barr released his misleading, so-called summary of the Mueller report, have been validated by the subsequent release (three weeks later) of the redacted version of the report, which documented evidence of President Donald Trump’s crimes of obstruction of justice, and then a subsequent letter from special counsel Robert Mueller to Barr chastising him for mischaracterizing his findings.

As well, my dismay at Mueller’s refusal to openly conclude that Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice has been validated by the nearly 1,000 former federal prosecutors who have signed a letter expressing their opinion that “the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution” for the conduct outlined in Mueller’s report.

Also, the Mueller report identified “multiple links” between the Trump presidential campaign organization and people with ties to the Russian government, and established that the Russians tried to influence the election of Trump.

The daily outrageous lies of Trump, his propaganda outlet Fox “News,” his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and counselor Kellyanne Conway are an affront to decent Americans. It’s time to call out the cowardly Republicans in the administration and Congress who are violating their oaths of office to protect the Constitution of the United States of America.


Newbury, Vt.

Why not ask voters to show an ID?

The Transportation Security Administration requires some form of “government identification” in order for an individual to enter federal facilities or board an airplane. This requirement was established in order to protect the public. Most states, including Vermont and New Hampshire, now issue driver’s licenses and identification cards that comply with the federal “Real ID” law. In order to get these cards, you have to prove citizenship and legal residence.

I find it interesting that there has been little outcry by the public or in the news media over the Real ID requirement. Yet, to require any form of definitive identification in order to vote is considered voter suppression.

You need a ID to shop at BJ’s or Sam’s Club, get a dump sticker, check into a motel and more. Shouldn’t the election of those who basically control our towns, states and federal government and are charged with protecting our safety, health, wealth and general well-being require the voters to have Real IDs?



Your gently worn shoes can help

The First Congregational Church in Thetford is collecting gently worn shoes, which will be shipped to micro-businesses in the developing world, where they will be refurbished and sold in the local community. All shoes are welcome, including boots, high heels, children’s shoes and soccer cleats, so long as they are dry and undamaged. No skates, please.

You clean out your closet and mud room, they get the raw materials to improve their lives, and the shoes don’t end up in a landfill. It’s a win-win-win.

Shoes can be dropped off through the second week of June at the church (the white church on Thetford Hill), Thetford Elementary School, Thetford Academy, Oxbow High School, St. Martin’s Church in Fairlee, Stateline Sports, the River Valley Club, the Borwell Research Building at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Remsen and Vail buildings at the Geisel School of Medicine, Hypertherm, and the Law Offices of Schuster, Buttrey & Wing in Lebanon.