Peter Powell- Owner, Peter W. Powell Real Estate, Chair of Coos County Economic Development
Powell says that he feels the need to point out problems with the current tax structure. He says past critiques of New Hampshire's revenue structure are still valid. He says New Hampshire lacks adequate revenue to do what the state needs to do.
"We need to have a central capacity to perform and make things work for our people."
"The most fundamental problem is a lack of resources." Powell says the problem is that the lack of money isn't limited to bad economic times, but that New Hampshire is unwilling to devote sufficient public resources even in times of growth. Powell says New Hampshire has the capacity to do more, but not the will.
"We need to focus not on the old language of economic development, but on the new language of economic opportunity." He argues that it no longer works to advertise New Hampshire as a "low cost" state.
He says New Hampshire's reliance on property taxes is a huge mistake. "We lack a sense of statewide community." He says differing local property taxes allow New Hampshire residents to ignore problems in other towns. Powell says inadequate tax policies mean state agencies lack the ability to respond to local needs. He wants to "strengthen the hand of the state and the community."
He says higher and higher property taxes lead to poor land use decisions by local communities seeking jobs and tax base.
Powell calls the property tax system a "hangover" from when the state lacked data on personal income.
Powell also argues for keeping public lands undeveloped, and for preserving Main Streets by making downtown buildings financially viable. Powell says New Hampshire's North Country is undergoing an economic transformation, and he doesn't know what they will use as its economic base. He says the "yield tax" provides disincentives to preserve land, and that Current Use boards are increasing assessments on productive timber lands, decreasing the incentives to keep them undeveloped.
Powell says the state should take burdens off of towns by paying for services itself. He recommends developing new and major revenues sources. He says education costs should be split between the state and towns, cutting the local property tax burden by 50%. This would force the state to "reinvent its tax system" and address the inelastic and regressive nature of current taxes.
Powell says a new tax system has to be fair, reasonable and just, and based on the ability to pay. He claims that this new system would both increase revenues and replace both property and business taxes statewide.
Powell says that a personal income tax, in combination with a value added tax, should be considered to restructure New Hampshire's tax system.