Letter: Project could ease strain on Coos County taxpayers
Over the next several months, towns in Coos County will give significant consideration to the revised plan of the Northern Pass electric transmission project that is planned to traverse much of Coos County.
An important aspect of this project is the potential benefit it would bring to county government. We all need to consider this investment and what it could mean for taxes, jobs and county services.
Maintaining county government services is a constant challenge. The sheriff’s department, corrections department, register of deeds, two nursing homes and other services are operated through county government. Growing costs and a declining tax base add difficulty to these challenges.
The Northern Pass would add an additional $1.5 million in annual tax revenue to Coos County government. Coos County currently raises about $14 million in property taxes; the Northern Pass would increase the county’s tax revenue by approximately 11 percent.
To give this some context, the estimated Northern Pass annual tax payment is approximately equal to the cost of all county workers’ salaries in the sheriff’s department, register of deeds and corrections department combined. It would cover roughly half the annual cost of salaries for all nurses at the West Stewartstown nursing home.
Debates about the future of the county farm, county jobs and other services become less challenging with economic growth and an expanding tax base. Most important, an expanding tax base reduces the financial pressure on existing taxpayers.
Clearly, there are many issues to be considered, but Coos County and northern New Hampshire cannot afford to reject out of hand efforts to invest in our county. We cannot afford to blindly follow those who would oppose this development for any reason.
We would be better to pursue a path of honest communication and fact-based discussion to see if this can lead to an outcome that benefits everyone in Coos County.
(The writer is a Coos County commissioner and mayor of Berlin.)