Your Taxes Explained

Over the years many of you have asked me about the differences between the tax rates in Penacook with Merrimack Valley School District and in Concord with the Concord School District.  Here is a quick overview of what makes up your taxes.

Your Taxes Explained

Two main ways the City can provide tax relief is to create a tax reduction by cutting services, or to expand the tax base to increase revenue.

Cuts can be achieved by reduction in personnel or services.  However, cuts are challenging considering that 62% of the City budget is devoted to police and fire, 23% to water services, wastewater, road maintenance, and the like, and the remainder to paying off debt service for City projects, like road reconstruction/maintenance.

Your taxes are made up of three portions:  City, County, and school district.  When the City reduces its spending or increases its revenue, the overall Concord and Penacook tax rates decrease by the same amount, as the City can only affect its portion of the tax rate; it can’t change the school or county portion.
The City’s portion of the overall tax rate for Concord and Penacook is identical ($9.84 per $1,000 of assessed value for both rates).  For example, if the City rate was cut by $1, the Concord rate would reduce from $28.24 to $27.24 and the Penacook rate in turn would decrease from $33.92 to $32.92 — in equal portion.  The entire City is treated equally as to rates.  The County tax rates for Concord and Penacook are also the same.

The school districts in the City do not have equal tax rates, however.  Merrimack Valley School District (MVSD) accounts for approximately 60% of the total tax burden for Penacook residents, compared with 54% for residents in the Concord School District (CSD).  While the CSD rate has remained relatively stable over the past decade, the MVSD rate has slowly risen, despite a decline in overall student enrollment.

The City and MVSD face similar challenges as to downshifting of costs at the NH State level.  Reaching a balanced City budget is made most difficult by this factor, along with the increase in health care costs.  For example, for FY 2016, the City’s tax rate went up about 4%, but 3.6% of that was directly related to the State of NH downshifting retirement costs.  Similarly, the roughly 20% of MVSD children who have special needs are Federally mandated to receive special services.  However, the Federal government does not fully fund their mandate, currently contributing approximately 40% of the cost of these services.  Your local tax dollars has to make up the rest.

So considering that the City and County tax rates are the same for Concord and Penacook, and if we anticipate the MVSD will continue to be faced with growing needs that the State and Federal governments will be challenged to or refuse to fund, then the surest way of helping to lower our tax burden is to increase the tax base in Penacook, with continued concentration on housing and new businesses in the downtown, in Thirty Pines, and at Whitney Road.

The impact of additional development alone will not solve all our tax concerns.  Penacook would need $17,700,000 of new assessed value constructed in the MVSD area to lower Penacook’s tax rate by $1.00.  We would need $100,359,000 in new assessed value (a 27% increase from what currently exists) to make the Concord and Penacook tax rates equal.  While we will not be seeing 27% more in assessed value constructed anytime soon, moving projects forward that continue to diminish the tax burden makes good financial sense.  Along the way, we will take steps to ensure that this development is appropriate and sensitive to the context of its surroundings.

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Public Meeting on Zoning Feb. 7, 6pm

Concord plans to move forward exploring a city-wide change to Form-Based Code zoning.  The Public Kick Off Meeting will be held Wednesday, February 7th from 6-8 pm in Council Chambers on Green St.  All are welcome to attend and participate.

Here is the information about what this zoning change means, from City Planner Heather Shank:

“The proposed changes to the [zoning] ordinance will focus on the physical form and character of the neighborhood that the community wants to create or preserve….  The first [phase] will focus on transitioning to character-based districts for the downtown commercial and residential neighborhoods of Concord and Penacook.”

Basically, this means a shift from a “one size fits all,” approach to zoning, where build-out is determined by land-use designations.  Form-based codes take into account existing building facades, the scale and types of streets and blocks, and other factors.  With visual and written descriptions, and most importantly, with community input, special existing characteristics of our neighborhoods are taken into account in deciding what development is allowed.

For those of you who recall or who participated in the Penacook Zoning Charettes a few years back, the information from those sessions will be incorporated into this new project.

Hope to see you there on February 7th, and I’ll keep you updated on progress.

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Thank You!

THANK YOU, Ward 1 voters! I appreciate your support and am honored to serve as your city councilor for the next two years.  Please remember that I’m here to work for you.  Feel free to contact me with concerns or questions.

We have many issues before us that continue to present challenges: expanding the tax base and economic development, homelessness and drug addiction, and providing affordable housing options, to name a few.  Progress is often slower than we want, but I believe we will continue to move forward with the help of our talented and dedicated city staff.

Soon you will be able to participate in discussions of the potential for commercial and industrial development at Whitney Road/Exit 17, and the possibility of form-based code zoning implementation in Penacook.  I will continue to post information and upcoming meeting dates for you on this web page and social media.

A reminder that volunteers are always needed in our schools, and in our community organizations such as the Penacook Village Association, Penacook Historical Society, and Penacook Community Center.  Please consider joining these groups to lend a hand.

LET’S KEEP WORKING TOGETHER to make our community even better.

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Gazebo at Poulin Park

Gazebo ribbon cutting 9-29-17

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to see our POULIN PARK re-dedication, and celebrate our new GAZEBO.  We are fortunate to have so many supporters of our community, in and out of City government.  Great to have our friends from the American Legion Post 31 lend a hand, and thanks also to the Penacook Village Association for all their efforts.  For those who missed the event, check out Concord TV’s video:

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Concord Planning Board – Wednesday Oct. 18 @7PM

Reminder!  Concord Planning Board Wednesday Oct 18th @ 7PM
This Wednesday at City Council Chambers (37 Green St.), the Planning Board will accept public testimony on several issues related to Penacook:
  • Item 6A – Penacook Community Center is requesting a one year extension of a Major Site Plan approval for construction of a new 40,000 sf community center at 99 Village Street
  • Item 6D – Caleb Development Group, for the former Tannery site, requesting Major Site Plan approval for construction of (2) three story multi-family buildings totaling 54 units
  • Item 7A – City Council referral pertaining to a request from Interchange Development LLC to modify the conditions of a Covenant, and rezone property off Whitney Road from Urban Commercial (CU) and Industrial (IN) Districts
Please plan to attend, or, send your comments by email in advance of the meeting to Craig Walker,
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Ward 1 Public Meeting

Penacook Community Center

I’m hosting a Ward 1 public meeting Thursday, October 5 at 7:00 PM at the Penacook Community Center (Community Drive) in the gymnasium room (down the stairway to the big room). Topics for discussion include:

  • Caleb Group’s proposal for housing at the former Tannery site in Penacook
  • Zoning adjustment and relief from city covenants requested by owners of property at Whitney Road, which is scheduled on the Planning Board’s October 18 meeting agenda. For more information, please see the communication and concept plan presented to City Council: CouncilAug14 AgendaItem8
  • Merrimack River Greenway Trail/rail trails (about 35% of the proposed trail runs through Penacook Ward 1)
  • Should Keno gambling be allowed in Concord (on 11/7 City Election ballot)
  • Questions on any other topics are also welcome. At-Large City Councilor and NH State Representative Steve Shurtleff will be on hand as well, to discuss these matters, and state-related issues.

Hope to see you there!

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Penacook Gazebo/Poulin Park Ribbon Cutting

On Friday September 29, 2017 at 11 AM the Penacook Village Association will hold a ribbon cutting and rededication ceremony signifying completion of construction of the new gazebo on Village Street in Poulin Park. Dave Poulin, a City Councilor who died while in office, was responsible for the construction of the original gazebo, which had to be demolished during a recent road construction project.

The new gazebo was built with generous support of local businesses and volunteers, and with many donations from the public. Part of the significance of the ceremony will be to provide thanks, and to officially turn the gazebo over to the City. Mayor Bouley has offered to cut the ribbon, and the American Legion Post 31 will participate by providing flags. Refreshments will be provided by the Penacook Village Association. Hope to see you there!

Link to Facebook Event

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