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December 03. 2012 7:47PM

Ski areas key to tax rates in helping North Country towns thrive

In the towns in and surrounding the White Mountain National Forest, local property tax rates are the lowest in those municipalities that have privately owned ski resorts within their borders.

It also helps that those are also hilly towns with many residences that have great views, but the deciding factor in the tax rates seems to be the ski areas and the second-home development around them.

In the White Mountain region, Jackson's 2012 tax rate comes in as the lowest, according to the latest listing from the state Department of Revenue Administration. Jackson property owners are paying $10.13 per thousand dollars of assessed property value this year, and though Black Mountain is only a medium-sized ski area, it is one of the area's earliest, its hill having hosted winter enthusiasts from southern New England for more than 100 years. Jackson's total valuation of $389,529,512 includes a large number of seasonal homes perched on the hillsides above the village.

Lincoln's entrance into the ski industry came later, but the development of Loon Mountain, along with second home neighborhoods and condominiums, has boosted the town's valuation to $755,226,600. The 2012 property tax in Lincoln is $12.73.

Tax bills in Bartlett, home of Attitash, should be going out by the end of the week, according to town clerk and tax collector Leslie Mallet. The DRA has not yet announced the rate, but the 2011 rate was $10.48, and the town's total valuation was $911,073,231.

Conway, home of Cranmore Mountain Resort, bucks the trend of low taxes in towns with ski areas. Conway's town valuation passes the billion dollar mark, with its properties valued at $1,398,325,665, and its tax rate $17.61. The largest town in Mount Washington Valley, with a year-round population slightly over 10,000, Conway is also the economic and commercial center of the valley, with the region's high school and hospital within its borders.

Chatham is also an exception. With no ski area to attract high-end vacation condominiums, the small town of 331 still has comparatively low taxes for 2012 at $11.72, its valuation is $51,634,213 and the municipal portion of the tax rate is rate $.88.

At the other end of the scale are Berlin and Gorham, with 2012 tax rates of $32.31 and $30.33, and Bethlehem with a tax rate of $28.61.

Occupying the middle are: Carroll, $19.05; Franconia, $15.92; Jefferson, $19.75; Madison, $15.40; Randolph, $15.98; Shelburne, $15.32; and Woodstock at $17.88.

syoungknox@newstote.com


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