City Hall in Concord. The state’s mayors are seeking restoration of revenue sharing. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)
New Hampshire’s 13 mayors are turning to the Senate for an ambitious ask: a boost in municipal aid in the budget.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Gary Daniels, mayors from Claremont to Rochester urged Senate budget writers to restore revenue sharing to cities and towns – a once-standard budgeting approach that has lapsed for the past decade.
“Over the past decade, the State of New Hampshire’s budget decisions have resulted in significant losses of revenue to municipalities, contributing to property tax increases and delays in needed infrastructure improvements,” the mayors wrote.
New Hampshire once had a number of arrangements to share a portion of the state revenue with cities and towns. But between 2009 and 2011, many of those arrangements have been scaled back.
Up to 40% of the state’s meals and rooms tax – the 9% tax on restaurants and accommodations – is intended to go back to cities and towns. But after the recession of 2011, the Legislature suspended a “catch-up formula” allowing cities and towns to receive the bulk of any revenue surplus from the tax.
Without that, cities’ allocations have dropped to around 20% in recent years, according to the New Hampshire Municipal Association.
Another type of aid came in the form of direct revenue sharing to cities and towns from New Hampshire’s General Fund. That was suspended in 2009.
In their letter, the mayors estimated cities and towns collectively lost $160 million since 2011 from the drop in rooms and meals tax allocations, and $164 million since 2009 in the loss of direct revenue sharing.
The letter is signed by Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, Claremont Mayor Charlene Lovett, Concord Mayor Jim Bouley, Dover Mayor Bob Carrier, Franklin Interim Mayor Olivia Zink, Keene Mayor George Hansel, Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer, Lebanon Mayor Tim McNamara, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, Portsmouth Mayor Rick Becksted, Rochester Mayor Caroline McCarley, and Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard.
(Read the letter below.)
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