Co-op Members Bear the Burden of Huge Local Property Tax Increases
Over the last five years the Co-op has experienced a nearly 70% increase in the municipal property taxes we pay because a number of towns where we do business increased their assessments of the value of our property by enormous amounts. At present, property taxes account for 11% of your total bill!
For example, one town tripled the assessed value of the Co-op’s property in a single year. In another town, we added $2 million of property in 2015, yet our assessment went up by $8 million. In yet another town, our property valuation was doubled in 2014 and was increased by another 25% in 2015.
Because the tax bills from all towns where we do business are lumped together in our rates, all Co-op members pay a share of the taxes for all towns, including those that impose huge, unreasonable increases in how they value our property. This makes power more expensive for everyone. We don’t believe that’s fair, and we don’t believe it’s good energy or tax policy. A utility pole in one town should not be assessed at two or three times the value of an identical pole in the next town over, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
The Co-op is part of a statewide coalition working to make changes through the legislature that would bring fairness and consistency to the utility property assessing process.
We support House Bill 324 (HB 324) which proposes municipalities use the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration’s (DRA) utility property assessments, which the DRA performs annually to calculate the statewide utility property tax for the Co-op and other utilities.
Why is this legislation important?
Currently, each municipality can independently assess the value of utility property in their town. As a result, the tax assessments placed on similar property can differ greatly from one town to another. For example, a transformer assessed at $100 in one town could be assessed at $300 in the next town over.
Because the Co-op’s payment of tax bills from all towns where we do business are lumped together in our rates, all Co-op members pay a share of the taxes for all towns, including those that impose unreasonable increases in how they value our property.
House Bill 324 would fix this problem by implementing a statewide formula – already in use by the NH Department of Revenue Administration to determine state utility taxes – for assessing utility property locally. It will help prevent communities from using creative, aggressive assessing tactics to bring in additional tax revenue, at the expense of all members, most of whom live in other communities. The current process encourages municipalities to drive up utility property valuations because they know the ultimate burden will be shared by residents in other towns. That ends up increasing electric costs for everyone, which is bad energy policy as well as bad tax policy.
Status of the legislation:
HB 324 has been retained in the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee. The Committee will begin reviewing the bill late summer and make a recommendation on passage in the fall. The bill would then come up for a vote in the full House of Representatives in early 2018.
What can you do?
Sign up to let us know you support the kind of fair and equitable tax assessing reform called for in HB 324. We will keep you up to speed on HB 324’s latest developments.
HB 324 in the News