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Proposed bill would enable Hooksett deal with Walmart

HOOKSETT — A proposed bill designed to promote public private partnerships would allow a deal between the town's sewer commission and Walmart to build a new sewer line to proceed.

Hooksett state Sen. David Boutin said he hopes his proposed legislation, SB 223, which was written with the help of the state Department of Revenue Adjustment, will be signed into law by the end of February.

"This is unique legislation in New Hampshire," Boutin said, "and the whole purpose of the bill is to promote public private partnerships that will promote economic development, meaning new jobs. There is no tax impact, and this legislation is designed so that cities and towns can choose to adopt it."

Under the agreement between the sewer commission and Walmart, Walmart would construct a new sewer line at an estimated cost of $5 million and then recoup the construction cost when the town turns over all sewer connection fees associated with the line back to the company until the $5 million is paid back.

Town Administrator Dean Shankle said that after the deal was agreed upon, the DRA informed the town it would not work the way it was worded.

"I am very happy Boutin put it forward; it's a good idea. We are looking to get this project done, and the DRA said what we wanted to do wouldn't work. It was Boutin's idea to do it this way. It's innovative, and another good thing is that it will help everyone in the state, not just us," Shankle said.

Boutin said the genesis of the legislation was the Walmart situation.

"Originally, Walmart was going to build a wastewater plant at the facility, which they would have had to build and maintain. But for them, putting the sewer in, they don't have to spend to maintain that. And the bill spells out that there has to be a clear accounting of the money going in and out. The great thing for taxpayers is that they don't have to pay for the development, and there is no interest accruing as well," Boutin said.

Boutin, along with Shankle and members of the Sewer Commission, said the new sewer line is important because it will help to increase what has already been a bevy of recent economic activity in the area.

"Bass Pro is coming in, and there are a lot of shopping areas up there," Boutin said.

Boutin said the bill has been well-received at the capital. Shankle added that at a Wednesday hearing on the bill at the Legislative Office Building in Concord, he heard very little, if any, opposition to the bill.

Boutin said he expects the Senate to vote on the bill at the end of January, with the Legislature taking up the bill in February.

"Then when the governor signs it, Walmart can start proceeding and get design done, so they can begin construction in the spring," Boutin said.

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