New Hampshire lags in setting local tax rates; bills will be late
Both Maine and Vermont allow local governments to calculate their tax rates, said Jessie Levine, town manager in Bedford.
But the state official whose department sets tax rates said a lot of data must be compiled and checked for a tax rate to be set. The oversight is necessary because local New Hampshire governments raise almost $3.5 billion in tax revenues, said John Beardmore, commissioner of revenue administration for the state.
The New Hampshire Municipal Association lists local tax setting as one of its high priorities, said Executive Director Judy Silva. In the past, the Department of Revenue Administration was needed to set tax rates because it had all the data, she said. Now it is available electronically.
Earlier this month, Beardmore's Department of Revenue Administration announced that tax rates, typically set in mid-October, would be about a month late due to a new law requiring the use of the previous year's school enrollment figures to calculate education levies.
"It could be the squeaky wheel," said Levine, who said she started calling state reps and senators in early October when she heard about the delay. She stressed the town is diligent in getting information about its budget to the state by a Sept. 1 deadline.
Levine said state deadlines make for a narrow window of getting out tax bills. The deadline for tax bills can't be earlier than Dec. 1, and taxpayers must be given at least 30 days to pay the bill. So the later bills go out, the later the deadlines.
The Coos County town of Shelburne received its rate on Monday.
Jo Carpenter, administrative assistant for Shelburne selectmen, said she talked with state tax officials on Friday by telephone, and they worked out the rate.
Both she and Levine said towns have been getting rates later than in the past several years.
Beardmore said people on his staff are working overtime to get bills out. Last year, the first rates were set Oct. 19.