Digging Into What Is Happening To Alton, NH Tax Base. Gone Down $180 Million Since 2008.


Anura Guruge

Related posts:
[do a SEARCH (>>>>) on ‘Tax’ for others’]
1. Alton, NH Property Tax ‘Impact’ Has Gone Up 4% Since Last Year
>>Nov. 28, 2012.

2. Alton Tax Base Went Down for 3 reasons — Dec. 18, 2012.

I had looked at this once before in mid-December 2012 using data I got online from the State.

This week I went and got some data from the Town. Thanks, folks. That was excellent.

This is what they gave me.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

I can’t look at numbers unless I throw them into a spreadsheet and do a bit of crunching.

I did that.

This is what I got.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

I have been paying property taxes in NH for 27 years — sometimes in multiple towns. I know how it works quite well.

In 1987 I nearly got lynched in the town I was then living in. They had got a brand new, computer system to do their taxes — their first foray into computers. They had a glitch in it which precluded them from sending out the tax bills. The bills were 3 weeks late. I happened to go to the Town Hall to register a car (or something) and was told about the problem in passing. I fixed it in about 10 minutes. The bills went out the next day! The word got out that that ‘brown guy’ who had mysteriously appeared in town (and who worked for some computer company in MA) had fixed the system. But, the Town Hall, especially the Tax Collector, and all who got paid from the town (like the police), loved me ever since.

In NH, the tax rate and the tax base are connected not just at the hip, but from top to bottom.

Lets say that by some miracle a Town managed to operate on a flat budget over a number of years. If, however, despite the flat budget the tax base went down — the tax rate has to go up to make up for it. If the tax base goes up, the tax rate goes down — provided the budget doesn’t change.

It is a titer-totter.

In NH, a Town’s tax rate by itself tells you diddly! It has to be coupled with the tax base — and the formula used to assess property in the town

Take Concord. They have a higher tax rate. I think $24 per thousand. That doesn’t however mean that they pay 1.75 times more in property taxes than Alton. Why? Their assessed value on homes is less. You now have to factor that in. If you take a house assessed at $200,000 in Concord and put it on my lot in Alton (in place of this house), it won’t be assessed at $200,000 in Alton! That is the titer-totter. The snakes-and-ladders as we properly call it back home (and we invented the game).

To me this is but intellectual curiosity. No axe to grind. I have learned over the years not to get excited about changes in a Town assessed base or tax rate. If one goes down the other will go up. C’est la vie.

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