"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Tax Rate is Only Part of the Story

“Ready Steady” commented about our low tax rate and it is indeed one of the lowest in New Hampshire. Per the NH DRA, the 2014 tax rates were set as follows with Moultonboro in 9th place:   (  Populations range from zero in Thompson and Meserve Purchase to 968 in New Castle according to the US 2010 Census)     
Tax Rate
Assessed Value
Thompson. & Meserve Purchase     

Harts Location

Pinkhams Grant
Hales Location

New Castle

We also enjoy one of the highest assessed property  valuations  in all of New Hampshire. The eight towns , “purchases” and “locations” above us have a total assessed valuation that amounts to about  38% of Moultonboro’s alone.  In terms of the rest of NH, we rank 11th highest in total assessed property valuation: ( also from NH DRA

Population (2010 Census)

So what does this all mean? Mostly what most of us already know: our tax base is huge compared to our population and it allows us to maintain a very low tax rate. Compared to Manchester, where a $100,000 home will cost you  $2,350 in property taxes, in Moultonboro, you will pay $886. That is what is important. Whether your home is assessed at $100,000 or $3M, that is the advantage we need to protect. 
Of additional note is that the 10 municipalities ahead of us in property values, all pay much higher school property taxes ranging from twice as high ( our school tax rate is $2.26) to nearly six time as high. Moultonboro’s town tax rate ( $2.85) is really all the BoS can attempt to control.
All told compared to the rest of the State, well the numbers speak for themselves.  
I do take exception to comments that our spending is "out of control" and that we are doing nothing about it. I would invite you to attend each budget work session this fall and listen as we review each and every department budget, line item by line item.  Attend the CIPC meetings where every major capital expenditure is put under a microscope. 
What I have learned halfway through my term as a Selectman is that number one, you can’t please everybody. Number two, you can’t please everybody.  No matter what you say or do, someone will have a bone to pick.  But that’s okay. That is what public involvement in local government is all about.  I’ve been on both sides of the desk and no matter which side you sit on come Thursday evenings, there are few easy answers.
In the end, each Selectman has but one vote, and all any of us can do is make our cases with the facts as we know them  for whatever issue is on the table,  and after the vote is over, move on to the next one. 


Anonymous said...

Blogger, written like a true politician. You have changed your tune since becoming an elected official.

Total assessment is beyond the control of the town. It was in the past 10 years that Moultonborough had something like the third highest total assessed value in the State. I interpret this to mean other towns such as Hampton are becoming even more popular retirement communities. My family owned property in the Beach precinct for almost 70 years so I am very familiar with Hampton.

As for the tax rate ... it has exhibited very healthy growth since the Vision assessments started in 2004. The Town portion of the tax rate has grown from 1.66 per thousand in 2004 to 2.85 in 2014 per the link below.


That increase is larger than the increase in the County rate which almost everyone agrees is poorly managed and out of control. I could be wrong but I think I saw or read that the target increase for the 2016 budget submissions is a 5% increase. Meredith has target zero budget growth the last few years.

The waterfront is the life blood of Moultonborough. Prices are no longer escalating rapidly and may be actually decreasing albeit gradually. Should those that can afford the waterfront decide it is no longer a good investment given the taxes and other carrying costs, the tax rate will increase simply due to the declining base even with no growth in the budget.

Financial people in the private sector look beyond just rates and at the gross amount of dollars as well. Focusing simply on rates means that previous spending levels were justified and acceptable. Previous spending levels can contain one time amounts for
very specific reasons.

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

"In the end, each Selectman has but one vote, and all any of us can do is make our cases with the facts as we know them for whatever issue is on the table, and after the vote is over, move on to the next one."

The BoS have a tough job. Some BoS, past and present, have different views on town issues, that they have to "govern". This comment is valid for past/present Boards, and for past/present Board members.

SB2 could help in this arduous task.

The Bos is/are elected by the majority ... of those who vote, or are able to vote; usually more voters on MoBo Tuesday than MoBo Saturday, absentee ballots noted, for MoBo Tuesday only.

"Majority," in differing contexts, has a different outcome.

Unfortunate, that our system doesn't provide each taxpayer with a voting ballot for all issues, with the tax bills, even if they are not residents. That would be a "majority" worth democratizing!

There is truth, that those who show up for the annual town meeting are participating in the one day a year, MoBo is a Democracy. The other days we are a Republic accepting the rule of those elected.

Also, maybe, keeping the present power base intact with 200-300 folks, to declare a majority. Differing camps on issues can than cull a posse to their cause.

SB2 could help in this arduous task.



Still Waiting said...

Attend the CIPC meetings? I thought meetings were suppose to be live streamed?

Moultonboro Blogger said...

To anonymous at 7:15am- facts are facts. I would invite you to consider the impact of the huge drop in real estate values during the great recession. There was a large blip upward in our tax rate over one year ( 2009 to 2010) and since then the town tax rate has increased at far lower rates and in fact went down in 2012.
Going back to 2004 is not a valid rationale and it is incorrect to say that there was a "healthy" growth in the town tax rate. It had up and down years and the property values were still in the boom town phase.
You ae also misleading on the county tax rate. It has increased by 36% since 2004 and that has in fact seen a steady "healthy" growth.
As for the 5% target growth, that is an arbitrary number referring to only capital expenses from a report by the former town intern, Michael Branley. I have said publicly that we should be looking at zero or reduced growth, but I am but one vote.
Changed my tune since being elected? You need to pay closer attention.

Rick Heath said...

With a tax base that is 75% of the city of Concord (means) and a population that is less than 10% of that same city (needs) I have said for years that we are not only absurd in our spending, (both school and town) but that IF we spent more in line with towns our size we could have a tax rate 2/3 of what it presently is. We have spent our way into things that will need maintenance and personnel forever just to manage them. For example, the physical plant of the school district. With enrollment in a death spiral our school budget gets to increase more every year. How can we justify a budget that is more than it was back when we had 100-150 MORE students? I am sure I'll hear from the justifiers on this. It is because "the Federal Govt has minimums that need to be met". "We have the space for the odd ball class, we may as well use it." In the private sector when business is off you change your plan. Cut costs, make a better product, find and serve additional customer base, etc. But in the public sector we build additional un-needed gyms, don't cut anything or anywhere and ask, or rather TELL, the taxpayer to pay for the difference.
Keeping taxes as low as they can be (rather than lower than the area towns) would also help attract more lower-middle income parents who's kids could populate our schools. The other key SAU factor is improving the educational product (more justifiers), but that is a topic for another time.
How many years ago did we sit and listen to the proposal for the community ctr and how much was the tab for that?? Fryeburg, Maine is considering a proposal for a 25K sq. ft. rec. ctr. that is slated to cost 1.6 million. That (if it is a need not a want) is frugal spending. No indoor olympic pool, no phony closet size room for the seniors, no absurd barn-like camouflage look. A smart simple design.
Unfortunately we have two bureaucracies (SAU and town, including the library) that are less than stella in their saving capabilities. And they have been extremely good at getting what they WANT for a long long time. Too bad we don't have an Executive branch to keep the two spenders in line. (SB2)
The town doesn't need more failed and then reconstructed walkways on the neck road, sidewalks in the down town, another "best property available" (we got that with the Lions Club and again with the Adele Taylor property. With all the downtown properties for sale, a fire station that doesn't hold the weight of the trucks..... well you get my point.
How about the SAU sponsoring a charter school or at the very least open the idea of renting space in the future to one should they come asking. It is proven charter schools do well in most cases (without unions teachers seem to produce better) and the competition may just improve both.
I know I'll get some flack on this. I have not commented on much here lately for the anons that like to toss around comments that have nothing to do with the subject (Fox News, Tea Party, Right Wing, Etc.) So if you like to comment use your name. I'd enjoy to have the discussion.

Mt. Rattler said...

Thank you Mr. Heath! Good points Sir!

David Oliver

non resident with no say said...

Rick hits the nail on the head. I've heard the "we've got a low town tax rate" mantra for so long but when you look at total spending and compare it to towns our own size population-wise, we're far and away above. Same goes for the school rate, which I know is not under the control of the BoS. Look at cost/pupil and Moultonborough is pretty close to the top in the state.

"But we get a huge summer population increase" goes the story. So do Meredith and Wolfeboro. Moultonborough's town spending is 8% below Meredith's but with a 54% lower year round population. The Moultonborough spending is a bit more favorable when you look at Wolfeboro where our town spending is 26% below theirs but the year round population is 55% lower. It seems like the people spending the money try to create an infrastructure equal to these much larger towns because we can and still say our tax rate is among the lowest in the state.

Moultonborough is like the Wall Street investment banker buying a Ferrari saying he's frugal because he's got more in his checking account than the guy working at Walmart.