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Legislation that clarifies property taxation of recreatiional vehicles awaits Hassan's signature

CONCORD — Legislation that clarifies the taxation of recreational vehicles kept on campgrounds throughout the year is on its way to the Governor Maggie Hassan's desk after the Senate and House reached agreement last week.

Senate Bill 333, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), which originally would have exempted all recreational vehicles sited on campgrounds from property taxation, carried the Senate 24 to 0. However, officials from Laconia were quick to inform lawmakers that the city would lose about $10 million in assessed property valuation and more than $200,000 in property tax revenue.

The bill was amended by the House Municipal and County Government Committee 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.

Forrester recommended that the Senate concur with the House version of the bill, which it did.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:26

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In Laconia, Frank Guinta says N.H.'s middle-of-the-pack business climate must improve

LACONIA — Frank Guinta, the Manchester Republican seeking to regain the seat in the First Congressional District he lost to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2012, visited with Scott Kalicki, president of Lakes Region Community College, and the staff of the advanced manufacturing program yesterday.

Guinta said that in attractiveness to operate a business, New Hampshire ranked 27th among the 50 states, noting that "if you're not in the top 10, you might as well be last." He said that the aging population, business taxation, energy costs, regulatory climate and diminishing workforce were all factors in the relatively low ranking. "We've got to turn that around," he said.

Keith Fletcher of LRCC said that the advanced manufacturing program has grown quickly, thanks in large measure to the 22 firms represented on the advisory board. Many of these firms have enrolled employees in the program. Moreover, Tom Goulette, vice-president of Academic and Community Affairs, pointed to the rising enrollment in the manufacturing program at the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School, which with the college provides a pathway to a career in the manufacturing sector.

At the federal level, Guinta said that nine agencies spend some $18 billion on 47 different job training programs. "It's very convoluted and bureaucratic," he said, "and that's the problem." If elected, he said he would proposed consolidating all the programs and funding in one agency, most likely the Department of Labor, which he said would reduce the administrative overheads and stretch the dollars for the programs. "Efficiency creates more dollars for the intended purpose" he said. "it's something I plan on working on."

"Our economic needs are critical," Guinta said, "especially in this part of the state."

Guinta, a former mayor of Manchester, was elected to Congress in 2010, which he said branded him as a member of the Tea Party. "I wasn't a Tea Partier when I was mayor," he said. "I wasn't a Tea Partier when I sat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. And I was not a member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress." Instead, he said "I'm a conservative Republican."

Guinta said that as a mayor he sought to identify problems and find solutions. "This time one of the things I will do more strongly is to focus on what I can accomplish," he said, stressing that he remains a conservative with a firm commitment to limited government and fiscal responsibility. "It's very important to know what you can achieve and what you can't," he remarked.

Guinta is locked in a primary contest with Dan Innis of Portsmouth, former dean of the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire turned hotel owner, for the GOP nomination.

 

CAPTION: Frank Guinta, one of two Republicans seeking the nomination in the First Congressional District, visited Lakes Region Community College yesterday, where he discussed the importance of developing a skilled workforce with Keith Fletcher (black) and Dan Brough (orange) of the advanced manufacturing program and Scott Kalicki, president of the college. (Laconias Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:13

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Forrester votes against hospital tax deal

CONCORD — Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, was among the handful of Republican senators who declined to support the agreement over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), which carried the Senate by a voice vote yesterday.

"I had real concerns about the impact of the agreement on the next state budget," Forrester said, explaining that she anticipated it would add between $60-million and $100-million to the state's liabilities.

The agreement, negotiated with 25 of the 26 hospitals in closing days of the legislative session, provides for the state to increase reimbursements to hospitals uncompensated care, lower the rate of the MET and apply all revenues from the tax to Medicaid services. In return, the hospitals will withdraw their challenge to the constitutionality of the MET and drop all claims lodged in state and federal courts for tax refunds.

Forrester, who was named to the committee of conference appointed to reconcile differences between the Senate and House of Representatives, withdrew from the panel in the midst of its deliberations. "It was hard for me to vote for something I might have to fix later," she said.

"It was a complex issue," Forrester said, comparing the deliberations to those around the expansion of Medicaid last year. "We worked long and hard." She said that reducing the rate of the MET and applying the revenue to health care were positive features of the compromise. "But," she said, "I believe it will cause problems down the road."

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:02

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Selectboard unmerges Meredith Neck lots, but that's all

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen yesterday unanimously agreed to restore two Meredith Neck lots, which the town merged into one in 1979 without the consent or knowledge of the owner, but refused to address other issues raised by the current owner of the property.

The 8.6 acre property is located on the west side of Harris Road on Meredith Neck. Christopher John Krochina, who acquired the property in 1993, initially requested the two lots be unmerged at a workshop in April. He also asked the board to revise all zoning and tax maps to identify not only the boundaries of the two lots but also any easements or right-of-ways depicted on the original subdivision plan of 1970. The board sought the advice of legal counsel and scheduled yesterday's public hearing.

Krochina spoke to his request, but when he reached the question of easements and right-of-ways, Town Manager Phil Warren interrupted to explain that while the authority of the Selectboard was confined to unmerging the two lots and did not extend to the other issues he raised. When Krochina questioned Warren, Selectman Peter Brothers told him that easements and right-of-ways were matters of law that could only be resolved in court. Subsequently, Carla Horne, who chairs the board, twice asked Krochina to limit his remarks to the issue at hand and finally allotted him another three minutes to conclude his presentation.

Ralph Pisapia, who uses the right-of-way to reach Krochina's property, and two other neighbors urged the board against granting Krochina any control over the easement. Pisapia said that Krochina has claimed to own it and is the only property owner in the neighborhood who does not contribute to the upkeep of the private roads.

Tim Britton, an attorney representing abutters Paul and Elaine Taylor, told the selectmen that his clients believe the lots were merged voluntarily and cited a restriction on the deed filed in 1993 specifying that the lots were to be conveyed as one, not separately. The Taylors also contended that easements were extinguished through litigation and should not be restored.

In offering the motion the approve Krochina's request to unmerge the lots, Selectmen Lou Kahn explained that the restriction placed on the deed was revoked in 1996 and therefore was "irrelevant." Referring to the statute, he said that "it doesn't say a damn thing about easements or rights-of-way — only lots."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:49

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