The most recent information indicating that the tax rate may increase by 4% is truly a shocking event to Hampton Taxpayers. In our numerous articles to the Hampton Union and our presentations at the Board of Selectmen we constantly mention the need to look out for the interests of the taxpayers when the Town goes on spending sprees. Some of the items impacting our taxes are necessary some are not. While we may be seen as ultra conservative we have spent a lot of money in areas that were not essential and now we have to pay the piper.
The current thinking that we should not offset the tax increase by using the undesignated fund balance is a bad idea. There is currently close to $7 million or 10% of spending available and the recommended range by the DRA is between 5-17%. Last year the Selectmen supported using $540,000 from the UFB for seven separate warrant articles, including the Gristmill Dam and Blacksmith Shop restoration projects, hardly necessities. Now, only several months down the road the Selectmen are indicating that the town’s financial situation is at a point where the town cannot afford to use 5% or 10% of the UFB surplus to mitigate tax increases for the first time in many years. I think the BOS should immediately consider using some of the UFB for an offset and refrain from using it in the future for funding pet projects.
When we think of the warrant items that have gotten passed in the last few years and the lack of new revenue sources it behooves the Selectmen to start looking at solutions, so we don’t have sticker shock. The Budget, for which the Town Manager is proposing a 5% increase, should be cut or closely managed in the areas that can have some positive results. I am sure the Budget Committee can provide guidance in this direction. I also believe that the Selectmen are capable of wielding an axe as well.
Items we have historically mentioned include the need to get paid for commercial trash collection, impact fees on development that result in expanded municipal services, user fees for the waste water treatment plant for industrial users and with legislative help, the enactment a local meals and rooms tax for the benefit of Hampton only. We also recommend that the cable fees to be reduced to offset the costs to the taxpayers not kicked down the road.
We strongly urge our School Board to approach North Hampton to consider consolidating their middle school into Hampton’s. Everybody needs to be involved in keeping Hampton a place to want to live not an ever-increasing center of rising costs.