At its October 23rd Selectmen’s meeting, Chairman Waddell stated: I am more in keeping the tax rate level; going along with the plan the Finance Director, Manager and Assistant Manager have come up with; using some money with warrant articles and making sure we have money there to use; plan to keep tax rate level for 5 years.
While that is a noble idea, this year the alleged budget increase of $236K is net of a use of the undesignated fund balance offset of $600K which means that spending will increase by $836 in 2018. If Chairman Waddell is committed to keep the tax base low, we have a suggestion to significantly reduce expenses or increase revenues that is easy to do and has continued to be ignored by the Selectmen.
For many years the Town of Hampton has been collecting commercial trash for restaurants, retail and other types of businesses, both at the beach and uptown. During the summer months pickup for many of these businesses takes place seven days a week with individual businesses putting out as many as 40 carts curbside. If I were a resident of Hampton Meadows, or any of the other developments in the community that do not receive municipal trash collection, I would be outraged that the cost of municipal trash and recycling collection that I do not receive is a part of my tax bill, yet I have to pay for it again in my condo association fees because Town officials and the developer cut a deal to pass the cost to the Condo association’s homeowners in order to get their project approved. On top of paying for my own twice, I am subsidizing the business community in my tax bill. It’s so egregiously unfair that something must be done about it. How this Byzantine process began is unknown to me, when it has been brought to the attention of the Selectmen the typical response is “it has always been that way.” Article 43 on the 2014 ballot sought to eliminate the pickup of commercial trash, but was soundly defeated. Rational Taxpayers did not support that article because in addition to eliminating municipal commercial trash pickup, it also sought to categorically eliminate pickups for residential condominiums, which we felt was unfair.
Given the situation with property tax increases (taxes on an average valued single family home in Hampton have risen by almost $700 since 2014 after remaining flat for the previous six years, the full effect on the tax rate of the $26 million Hampton Academy bond will not be felt until next year and the Selectmen are considering proposing as much as $41 million in upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant), it’s an opportune time to end this ridiculous situation and come up with a fair and equitable solution.
Why do some businesses get their trash picked up daily, some less frequently, while other businesses do not have their trash or recycling picked up at all by the Town remains a head scratcher. Town officials should have some understanding of this. I call on the Selectmen to direct the DPW to prepare a schedule indicating which businesses have their trash picked up, the frequency pickup and the number of trash bins per business. This information could be used to estimate the cost of providing this service, including labor and benefits, operation and depreciation of equipment and tipping fee and transportation costs. I am sure this is very expensive and at a cost that runs into the millions. Town officials could determine the cost of providing this service to the individual businesses and consider charging the businesses for this service to offset the costs. There is also the possibility of offering this as a license to a winning bidder with the Town receiving compensation for the license fee. The labor could be deployed to other useful functions of the DPW, the wear and tear on the equipment significantly reduced and equity brought to this corrupt system.
We challenge Chairman Waddell and the Board to address this promptly.