CONCORD — Without debate ,the New Hampshire House of Representatives this week passed a bill that clarifies the taxation of recreational vehicles kept year around on campgrounds while sparing Laconia from decreased assessed valuation, foregone property tax revenue and increased tax rate.
Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), the bill's prime sponsor, said that she will recommend the Senate accept the bill as amended by the House.
As originally introduced, Senate Bill 333 would have exempted from property taxation recreational vehicles remaining in any one city, town or unincorporated place for fewer than 45 days as well as recreational vehicles stored or placed on a rented campsite at a recreational campground or camping park no matter for how long.
After the Senate unanimously passed the bill Jon Duhamel, the city assessor, counted 423 recreational vehicles parked at a dozen campgrounds year around with an aggregate assessed value of $9,994,500. They have been taxed for years, but would become exempt from property tax if the bill were enacted. He estimates that the city would forgo more than $220,000 in revenue, which would add 10 cents to the property tax rate.
At the request of city officials the bill was amended by the House Municipal and County Government Committee so as to safeguard the city's tax base. As amended by the committee and passed by the House the bill exempts only those recreational vehicles with a maximum width of eight-feet, six-inches, registered as motor vehicles, bearing a current number plate and located at a campground from property taxation. In other words, so-called "park models," wider than eight-feet, six-inches that cannot be transported without a special permit, and unregistered recreational vehicles less than eight-feet, six inches in width, would be taxed as real estate.
Before April 1 each year campground owners would be required to provide municipal assessors with the name and address of the owners of recreational vehicles at their campgrounds and to identify those exempt from property taxation. Campground owners would not be responsible for the payment of any taxes imposed on recreational vehicles at their facilities.
City Manager Scott Myers said that the amendment mirrors the practice the city has followed since 1999 when the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that trailers meeting certain criteria should be taxed as real estate. He said that the amendment addresses the major issues of concern to both the city and campground owners.