EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 31, 2013

N.H. property tax collections remain steady

Clerks report fewer liens, delinquencies

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — It’s tax time again, and local tax collectors are pleased that payments are right on target.

That means approximately 95 percent of Southern New Hampshire residents and business owners paid their property taxes by the July 1 deadline, tax collectors said. Towns also collect property taxes Dec. 1.

Although that’s in line with last year, tax collectors are glad the payments are rolling in.

Some said fewer liens being filed against delinquent taxpayers is a good indication the economy is improving.

“The past few years, the liens have started to go down,” Sandown Town Clerk/Tax Collector Michelle Short said. “It seems to have evened out. A couple of years ago, there were more people without jobs.”

Sandown has collected $5.9 million of the $6.3 million owed, or 95.6 percent, Short said. That’s slightly down from last year when $5.9 million of $6.2 million was collected, or 96.5 percent, she said.

Residents in Sandown and other towns are taking advantage of the chance to pay their property taxes online.

“I think it’s more of an option for people,” Short said. “We do see more people paying online.”

Plaistow Tax Collector Rosemarie Bayek said the latest figures haven’t been tallied, but tax collections in town usually average about 93 percent.

“We have been consistent for the last three years,” she said.

But some residents are still struggling to pay their property taxes, she said.

“There are people who are having a tough time,” Bayek said. “They do come in and pay what they can.”

For those who can’t pay in full, Newton Town Clerk/Tax Collector Mary McCullough tells them that paying something is better than nothing.

She some residents believe they have to pay the full amount all at once. If they miss the deadline, they have to pay 12 percent in interest.

“I tell them, ‘You don’t have to wait until you have it all. Pay what you can, it helps you save on interest,”’ she said.

Taxes that are still due the following spring are subject to a lien and 18 percent interest, she said.

McCullough is pleased she collected $5.4 million of the $5.6 million owed, or 95.8 percent.

“We have been holding steady,” she said. “Two hundred thousand (still owed) out of $5 million, that’s pretty good.”

Each year, roughly $200,000 to $275,000 is still owed past the tax deadline, McCullough said.

Londonderry finance director Susan Hickey said tax collections this year and last summer totaled 96 percent — a good sign. The town has received $33.4 million of the $34.7 million owed, compared to $32.6 million of the $33.9 million owed last year, she said.

But nine properties had to be seized for nonpayment of taxes compared to just two last year, she said. Most of the property owners are making arrangements to get their property back, she said.

Pelham also collected 96 percent, according to Town Clerk/Tax Collector Dorothy Marsden. That was the same as July 2012, she said.

“It’s about average — we do pretty good,” she said.

Pelham received $16.2 million of the $16.9 million owed this year compared to $14 million of the $14.6 million owed a year ago.

In Salem, collections this month came in at 95.2 percent — with $37.5 million of $39.3 million collected, Tax Collector Cheryl-Ann Bolouk said. That compares to $36.5 million collected last year, or 95.5 percent. Taxpayers owed $38.2 million.

In Hampstead, collections this month and last July totaled roughly $10.3 million, or 94.7 percent, Town Clerk/Tax Collector Patricia Curran said.