The Selectmen on July 1 announced that a comprehensive settlement was reached with PSNH, ending 8 years of litigation over the assessment of Merrimack Station. The settlement resolves all matters in dispute and restores the relationship the Town and PSNH, now known as Eversource Energy, enjoyed for over 50 years. As with any settlement, this represents a compromise between the positions held by each party given that PSNH claimed more than $14,000,000 was owed.
In summary, the settlement provides:
1. All outstanding disputes, from 2014 through 2018 are resolved.
2. Being scheduled to start another trial, Bow will not incur the expense of more litigation, which could have been well over $250,000.
3. The assessment on Eversource property in Bow (after the sale of Merrimack Station and Garvin Falls Hydroelectric facility) are stipulated for tax years 2019 through 2023.
4. Eversource agreed to not challenge property tax assessments for tax years 2019 through 2023.
5. The Town will reimburse PSNH $10 million for overpayment of taxes.
6. No additional interest will be paid on the overpayment amount.
7. Thanks to prudent planning by the Town officials, $4,250,000 will be paid in 2019 without additional tax increases. The payments will be:
a. $3.25 million July 10, 2019
b. $500,000 on August 1, 2019
c. $500,000 on December 31, 2019
8. The remainder will be refunded as credits against future property tax obligations of Eversource over four years. The credits will be:
a. $1,550,000 in 2020
b. $1,400,000 in 2021
c. $1,400,000 in 2022
d. $1,400,000 in 2023
If the taxes owed by Eversource are less than the credit, the Town will pay Eversource the balance.
To offset the inevitable reduction in the value of Merrimack Station, Town officials have worked to attract new business investment. Examples of success are the Exel warehouse on Route 3-A and the newly constructed Coastal Forest Products facility on River Road. Since the fall of 2018, over $27 million of new property investment has been constructed in Bow and added at least $725,000 to the tax base at the current rate.
We are confident our business development zone will expand in the years ahead and serve to offset the decline in the assessed value of the Merrimack Station,” said the statement from the Selectmen.
The Selectmen said they were “confident the business district will continue to grow. At the same time, it must be recognized that there will be years of austerity as we transition away from relying on one large commercial taxpayer for the majority of our tax base.”
Property values have risen across Bow and a new re-assessment of properties with higher values will help offset the tax loss of Merrimack Station.
Here is the article that appeared in The Bow Times newspaper regarding the 2019 School Budget.
Town and School Elections will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.
The polls are open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM at the Bow Memorial School.
Town Meeting (in person) will be held on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 6:30 PM at the Bow High School Auditorium.
School District Meeting (in person) will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Bow High School Auditorium.
by Chuck Douglas
On November 6 over 400,000 New Hampshire voters approved Constitutional Amendment #1 restoring the right of an average taxpayer to challenge illegal governmental spending in court.
For 150 years this had been the law until our Supreme Court decided the case of Duncan v. State of New Hampshire in 2014. At that point, the court adopted the restrictive federal standing requirements claiming they are the same under both Constitutions.
An overwhelming response by the legislature to amend the Constitution was forthcoming because the decision made no sense. Our Constitution was in effect for several years before there even was a federal Constitution, so the idea that the two documents are identical is wrong.
The challenge for both conservatives and liberals was to figure out how to gain support from the voters for an amendment that is hard to explain and contains 213 words. An analysis of the amendment revealed it would take almost a full minute just to read it and the ballot question was rated by linguists at a grade 13 level of readability, meaning that one would have to have high school plus one year of college education to read it and understand it.
A bipartisan coalition chaired by me with Bill Duncan as the Vice Chairman was created to raise money to provide information to the voters. The “Yes on NH #1” Political Action Committee included a former Republican Mayor of Manchester, Ray Wieczorek, and a former Democratic Mayor of Manchester, Sylvio Dupuis. Representatives in the legislature included Bob Backus from Manchester, who is a well known liberal and progressive voice, as well as Dan McGuire, a libertarian and conservative from the Republican side of the aisle.
Both political parties and both candidates for Governor supported Amendment 1 making it truly bipartisan in an era of warring tribes.
The Yes on NH 1 Committee was able to raise about $16,000 which resulted in an internet presence with 35,440 Facebook users, three Sunday newspaper ads and 30,000 palm cards. In addition, ads on WMUR and 500 yard signs urging a “yes” vote were part of the mix.
In the end, Yes on NH 1 worked hard in getting the word out, especially since Massachusetts TV was confusing us with Yes on 1 in Massachusetts that had to do with nurse staffing levels. It failed.
The end result is an Amendment to our Bill of Rights that restored Government accountability to the taxpayers. The 83% approval was 406,685 yes and 84,337 no votes.
This is an article that appeared in the April 2018 edition of The Bow Times.