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Spokesman: Campers stonewalled at protest
Renee Soucy of Raymond talks to people who showed up at Henniker Town Hall on Saturday for a protest of a new tax on long-term campers at the Mile-Away Campground.
Property tax bills outrage long-term campsite visitors
“It's really kind of interesting, isn't it?” said Dole.
Dole said she and dozens of campers, and even a few politicians, staged a brief, peaceful protest at Henniker Town Hall on Saturday morning over the decision by the town to tax long-term campers at the Mile-Away.
For years, Dole and hundreds of others have paid campground owner Bob French for the privilege of parking their wheeled campers at the park year-round. They make use of the campers for up to six months of the year, then pay French a winter-storage fee so they don't have to pack up the trailers at the end of each season.
Some folks have turned their campsites into mini-vacation spots, adding decks and even little gardens around their trailers, but Dole said it's foolish to look at those additions as anything but temporary. The campers don't have running water, and they're all resting on wheels.
“We have to be able to pack up and move out within 24 hours,” she said in a telephone interview after the rally. “We are not residents of Henniker. We don't get any of the benefits the other taxpayers receive. We can't send our kids to school here, the town doesn't plow our roads, we can't even list the campground as our temporary address.”
But the town is seeking between $500 and more than $1,000 per year from each camp, despite the fact that French pays taxes on the property itself and on the fees he collects from the campers.
“The town's not double-dipping, they're triple-dipping,” said Dole. “But they're shooting themselves in the foot to get this revenue.”
Although all New Hampshire towns can, by statute, tax seasonal campers, most towns have chosen not to, so the campers at the Mile-Away are looking to move elsewhere.
“A lot of people have their trailers up for sale,” said Dole. “If Henniker doesn't want their business at their gas stations, stores and restaurants, they can just go elsewhere.”
But Dole and some of her neighbors plan on fighting to see the tax rescinded, and they delivered letters of protest to the town on Saturday morning.
“This isn't just going to affect Henniker; it could have an impact on the entire state of New Hampshire,” she said. “We need people to know what's happening.”
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