Counterpoint: Peppin takes on several assertions

Leading up to and in the wake of the Hassan Township Annual Meeting in which Hassan electors voted for a zero tax levy, there has been a great deal of false information circulated about what a zero levy means moving forward.

Specifically, in the most recent letter to the editor, Al Krinke reiterated several inaccurate statements which require correction, including the accusation that my wife, State Representative Joyce Peppin has played a role in the zero levy effort. Despite requests by both Rogers and Hassan residents to take a side, she has consistently refused to do so, believing that this is not a state issue, but a local concern best addressed by Hassan and Rogers taxpayers and elected officials. 

Mr. Krinke also repeated the false assertion that a zero levy vote will force Rogers residents to pay the tax burden of Hassan residents who will be annexed into Rogers on Jan. 1, 2012. This is absolutely false.

The fact is that on Jan. 1, 2012 Rogers will inherit nearly $1.845 million in previously collected taxes, township reserves, fees, interest payments and other miscellaneous revenues from Hassan residents.  Hassan’s total expenditures for 2012 are expected to be just over $1 million annually, well under this $1.845 figure. Not only will Rogers receive adequate revenues on the first of the year for every service it provides in Hassan, the city will also receive a huge $845,000 windfall as well!

The consolidation of the two municipalities should also provide significant additional savings by eliminating redundant services, boards, legal, planning and other consultant contracts.

However, some in Rogers and Hassan believe Hassan should continue to tax its citizens even more and want to raise an additional $1 million to help further subsidize the Rogers budget. At a time when families are struggling with lower home values and higher prices for food, clothing and gas, Rogers continues to increase its level of spending and plans double-digit tax increases for 2013. In these tough economic times, that’s simply not right.

People in Hassan who support a zero levy in 2012 disagree with this status quo, tax and spend approach and believe Rogers should base a levy on the cost of service delivery, not force the town or its board to negotiate a  levy that is not based on the new cost of delivering services. That is why a majority of Hassan residents voted for a fiscally responsible zero levy that pays in full all township expenses for 2012 and still leaves a nice cash cushion for Rogers as we become one community. 

Zero levy supporters have many other concerns with the Rogers budget including a planned 13 percent tax increase for 2013, the excessive use of tax increment financing, the city’s plan to restructure its beleaguered police department and the level of city services Hassan taxpayers will receive in our merged communities. This is a much-needed financial discussion between Hassan and Rogers that has yet to take place.  

In his recent opinion column, Star News Editor Jim Boyle correctly wrote, “It’s time for the two sides to work together in new and meaningful ways.” Those of us who support a zero levy agree wholeheartedly, and look forward to moving ahead in a spirit of cooperation and consensus. — Gregg Peppin, Hassan Township