By John J. Goglia
On Friday, Aug. 6, Senator Sharon Carson (Londonderry) and Senator Regina Birdsell (Hampstead) met with representatives of the New Hampshire Private Road Taxpayers Alliance (NHPVRTA) at the Clubhouse of Hickory Woods in Londonderry. Also present was a member of the Hickory Woods Board of Directors. The main topic of discussion was the unfairness of property taxes being paid by residents on private roads who pay the same property taxes, and in many cases, more than their counterparts living on public roads for services that are not provided by municipalities.
Those services include road and infrastructure (water, sewer and lighting) repair, maintenance and replacement. Private road residents bear the significant cost and responsibility to determine when roads and related infrastructure need attention and in doing so must also seek and pay for the necessary expertise to make that determination at additional cost whereas municipalities provide those stress free services to residents on public roads.
The NHPVRTA had House Bill HB-1490 sponsored by Rep. Peter Schmidt (Dover) and co-sponsored by Senator David Watters (Dover/Barrington) pass the House in March of 2020, but was “Laid on Table” in June of that year by the Senate, due in part to the Covid-19 Pandemic. HB-1490 requested a study committee be formed at the state level to address all aspects of the fairness of the taxation of residents on private roads.
In the 2021 Legislative Session the NHPVRTA promoted Senate Bill SB-131-FN, Part IX, sponsored by Senator Carson, but that bill, which was part of a large omnibus bill, failed to pass the Transportation Committee in April of this year.
SB-131, Part IX required municipalities to equitably reimburse “qualified” private road communities for the costs of snow removal, repairs and replacement of roads and related infrastructure via a tax credit.
Apartment and rental type complexes and campgrounds were not considered qualified communities for purposes of that bill.
In anticipation of the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session, the NHPVRTA has prepared drafts of two preliminary bills and they are seeking sponsorship and support from both the Senators attending their meeting, as well as other Senators and State Representatives.
One bill seeks a reasonable tax credit similar to SB-131, Part IX except that individual municipalities would have the authority to offer such a tax credit but the individual private homeowner would have to apply each and every year for the credit. The second draft bill would require developers to create a Capital Reserve Fund for qualified communities consisting of at least four units based on an estimate of no less than 50 percent of the cost of replacement of private roads and infrastructure at the time of transition to the Homeowners Association.
Last week’s meeting with the two Senators was very cordial and informational for all parties. The Senators agreed to consult with other Senators and their respective constituents in the other towns they represent to get some more feedback before providing any commitment in support of the efforts of the NHPVRTA. The Senators did request certain specific additional information, which the NHPVRTA promised to submit promptly.
The NHPVRTA is a statewide, nonprofit organization advocating for property tax fairness for private road residents throughout New Hampshire. Their website is www.nhpvrta.com. Private road communities are prevalent throughout the state and include many over 55 communities, lake, mountain, urban, suburban, beach and even family residential type communities. Private road communities are gaining favor with developers and municipalities as they require less attention upon completion and are less of a financial burden on both.