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February 26, 2013

N.H. businesses unhappy with proposed gas tax hike

Businesses unhappy with gas-tax proposal

Businesses contending with rising fuel prices are worried about the New Hampshire House passing a gas tax increase tomorrow.

“It’s going to hurt our business,” Michael Bellmore, owner of Derry-based King Cab, said yesterday.

“This is ludicrous,” said Paul Hartnett, owner of Derry’s Axis Coach limousine service.

A proposed 15-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase comes up for debate tomorrow.

Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, chairman of the House Public Works and Highways Committee, sponsored House Bill 617 to finance repairs state roadways.

“New Hampshire’s state and municipal roads and bridges are in terrible condition,” Campbell told the House in a written report in support of the bill. “The problem is getting worse each year.”

Campbell proposes raising the gas tax gradually over four years. He said it would generate about $1 billion over the next 10 years to finish the Interstate 93 widening project, replace deteriorating bridges and put more money into town roads.

New Hampshire’s 18-cent-a-gallon tax is the lowest in New England. Massachusetts’ tax is 21 cents, Vermont’s is 19 and Maine is at 30 cents.

The gas tax here was last increased in 1991.

Campbell’s bill received bipartisan, 18-0, support in committee.

He said the committee vote acknowledges the only way to correct the problem of deteriorating infrastructure is to properly fund road work.

But the debate comes as gas prices have surged.

“Gas has gone up 40 cents in the past month,” Bellmore said.

It was worse than that, according to one price survey.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices, reported New Hampshire saw 32 straight days of rising prices from January into February, climbing from $3.26 per gallon regular to $3.73.

“It’s out of control,” said Andy Carace, owner of Pest-End Exterminators and Pro-Tech Lawn Care, which operates offices in Plaistow, Derry and Methuen.

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