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When should RV be taxed as a home? Forrester tackles issue

CONCORD — Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) intended to dispel confusion about the taxation of recreational vehicles received a favorable reception from the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week.

"We have a crazy quilt of inconsistent treatment of recreational vehicles across the state," Forrester said. "Temporary and portable recreational vehicles were never meant to be taxed as real property and this bill would clarify that policy."

The confusion arose in the wake of two court decisions. In 1999, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that a truck trailer could be assessed and taxed as buildings "if by its use it:  (1) is intended to be more or less permanent, not a temporary structure;  (2) is more or less completely enclosed;  (3) is used as a dwelling, storehouse, or shelter;  and (4) is intended to remain stationary."

Two years later the Belknap County Superior Court applied this standard to eight trailers at the Hack-Ma-Tack Campground at The Weirs, when the City of Laconia taxed eight trailers on their property as buildings. When the owners of the campground refused to identify the owners of the trailers, the city billed them directly.

The owners of the campground, echoed by the New Hampshire Campground Association, contended that because the trailers, which remained on their axles with inflated tires, were intended for seasonal use, they were not taxable as buildings. The city countered that since the trailers were left at the campground year after year and embellished with decks, sheds and landscaping but not registered, they qualified as buildings, resembling summer camps more than traveling campers.

On the strength of the court decisions, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) urged municipalities to apply the criteria strictly. Some did, but others did not.

Forrester said that she received calls from campground owners and municipal officials in different communities troubled by the inconsistent application of the law. In particular, she found that recreational vehicles parked at the 117 campgrounds in the state were treated differently by different municipal assessors. Some are taxed as real property while others are not. Some municipalities bill the owners of the recreational vehicles while others bill the owners of the campgrounds.

"I met with representatives of the campground owners as well as with officials from DRA to try to get some consistency," Forrester said.

Senate Bill 333 exempts recreational vehicles, as defined by statute, that do not remain in any one town, city or incorporated place for more than 45 days, unless stored or placed on a rented campsite, from property taxation. The statutory definition of a recreational vehicle includes motor homes, vans, pickup campers and tent trailers as well as recreational trailers of 400 square feet or less. The bill stipulates that recreational vehicles shall be deemed personal, not real, property and not liable to property taxation.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the bill last week and will reconvene the hearing today.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:57

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Police charge Laconia man with rape

LACONIA — A Batchelder Street man is facing one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault (rape) after his arrest for an incident reported on January 17.

Police said officers responded to Lakes Region General Hospital and received the complaint.

Police charge Fatmir Gasi, 52, of 72 Batchelder St. used physical force to overcome his victim. They described the relationship between Gasi and his alleged victim as acquaintances.

Gazi refused bail and is being held at the Belknap County House of Corrections. He is scheduled for a video arraignment this morning.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:44

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Sen. Ayotte to speak & answer questions in Laconia on Wed. morning

LACONIA – U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte is holding a town hall meeting tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the VFW on 142 Court Street.

Ayotte will provide and update on the nation's fiscal situation and take questions from the audience.

Wednesday's forum is part of a series of town hall meetings Ayotte is holding throughout the year.

"New Hampshire citizens are rightly concerned about the fiscal conditions of our condition of our country, and I look forward to hearing directly from Belknap County residents and updating them of my efforts to put America on a fiscally sustainable path," said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:37

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Selectmen propose 8.6% hike in Sanbornton road budget

SANBORNTON — Selectmen have approved a $781,000 Highway Department budget for fiscal year 2014-2015, an amount $62,000 (8.6-percent) higher than what was approved for the current fiscal year.

The approved amount, which still has to be vetted by the Budget Committee, reflects an increase in $10,000 for an administrative assistant said Selectman Karen Ober.

Ober said last week she recalls a part-time administrator being added to the Highway Department budget at least five years ago but the position was housed in the town offices because there was no space in the old highway garage.

She said she knows about the position because her husband Steve was a selectmen at the time and she applied for it.

"Of course, I didn't get it," she said with a laugh.

Ober said she thinks that when one town administrator left — some time around 2007 — and another took over, there was an assumption that the position was for the administration branch and not for the Highway Department.

Now that the town has a new highway department building, she said there is office space for the administrative assistant.

Other proposed increases in 2014-2015 are an additional $7,000 for roller rental. She said the department rents a roller in the spring but the additional $7,000 will allow the roads to be rolled in the fall as well as the spring.

Ober also said selectmen added $12,000 to the vehicle repair and maintenance line. She said historically, the department has spent about $45,000 annually and the increase reflects the true amount spend on repair and maintenance.

She said the Board of Selectmen also voted to increase the construction materials line and the line for sand and salt. For the past two years, she said the salt and sand line has been over-expended from the $100,000 that was budgeted.

She also said selectmen added an addition $13,000 in the materials line that will enable the department to buy more gravel for the roads.

The increases to the Highway Department budget were not unanimously supported, Ober noted, saying that selectman David Nickerson voted against them. Chair Guy Giunta joined her in the majority

The review for the Highway Department budget comes at an interesting time in town, because as this budget was being prepared, the Highway Privatization Committee continues its work.

The goal of the privatization committee is to evaluate Sanbornton's needs verses what it is spending now and see if it is more economical and appropriate to subcontract road maintenance to a private operator.

As it stand now, the Budget Committee is scheduled to review the Selectman's proposed budget on January 28 at 6 p.m.

The proposed highway budget does not include the budget for the transfer station which is proposed by selectmen at $127,413.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:34

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