MEMBERS of the Aldermanic Committee on Administration and Information Systems, at the request of Mayor Joyce Craig, have asked city assessor Bob Gagne to prepare a report on the disabled veterans property tax credit and veterans tax credit in Manchester and similar communities across the state, along with recommendations on adjusting the rates effective next fiscal year.
The city hasn’t made any adjustments to tax credits offered to disabled veterans since 2006.
Last year, the state Legislature approved increasing the limit a municipality may offer for the optional veterans tax credit from $500 to $750, and increased the optional tax credit for veterans with a service-connected total disability from $2,000 to $4,000.
“I believe it is time to reexamine the current tax credits offered to those who so honorably served our country,” wrote Craig in a memo to city aldermen.
Currently, Manchester offers tax credits of $400 to veterans who served during times of war and $1,600 to veterans with a service-connected total disability. The city will soon also offer a tax credit of $400 to all honorably discharged veterans regardless of when they served; the change is being phased in and will be available in 2021.
“Veterans who qualify for the optional veterans and optional disabled veterans tax credits have served honorably and have sacrificed for our country,” wrote Craig. “As a city, we should ensure that we are providing adequate property tax relief for these heroes.”
“The task would be to evaluate whether we should change from $1,600 to something higher and from $400 to something higher,” said Gagne. “My plan would be to investigate what other cities and towns are doing because normally this body wants to know where Manchester sits compared to other cities and towns as to the benefits they offer. We don’t want to be the highest or the lowest. We want to be fair.”
Gagne said he would report back to the committee at a future meeting with information on how many people are receiving the credits currently, and other pieces of information like the median household income in Manchester compared to income in communities like Bedford and Nashua.
Any future adjustments to the rates wouldn’t take effect until Fiscal Year 2021.
Members of Congress from two states, along with state, federal and local environmental officials, got a look last week at the first overflow manhole in Manchester wired to send notifications when storm water and sewage are discharged into the river — and now Queen City residents can sign up to receive those same notifications.
Last year, a total of 800 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater — from all sources — was released into the Merrimack and then out to sea. Discharges in Manchester and Lowell, Mass., accounted for more than half that volume, according to federal officials.
Manchester officials reported in 2018 there were 177 distinct discharge “events” that let 364,000 gallons into the river.
Last week, city officials initiated the public notification system. Residents can sign up at https://www.manchesternh.gov/e-Services/Email-Notifications by clicking on CSO Discharge Notification.
“We know there have been concerns about CSO (combined sewer overflows) discharge into the Merrimack, and in response, today we announced that individuals can receive a notification when these instances occur, for the first time ever,” said Craig. “I want to thank the Environmental Protection Division for their work in responding to community concerns while simultaneously working to adhere to federal EPA standards.”
Craig gets endorsement
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, Craig’s mayoral campaign will host a bike canvass with Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart. Volunteers will ride their bikes door to door to talk with voters about the upcoming election and issues that matter to them.
The bike canvass will launch from Oak Park, at the intersection of Maple and Brook streets, at 5 p.m.
On Thursday, Craig was endorsed by the group Democracy for America, a progressive national grassroots organization with over one million members. This is the third election cycle the group has endorsed Craig.
“With more than one million members, Democracy for America is committed to electing leaders who address the tough challenges facing their communities, and I’m honored to again have their endorsement for Mayor of Manchester,” said Craig in a statement. “In less than two years, we’ve made meaningful progress on the issues that matter most to Manchester. By bringing our community together, we’ve strengthened our schools, grown our economy, and made progress combating the opioid epidemic.”
Gail Singer blood drive
The 36th Annual Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive is taking place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Tuesday and Wednesday at the Center for New Hampshire at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Downtown hotel. Craig plans on donating at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
“I am grateful to Stephen Singer and the Singer family for their leadership in planning America’s largest community blood drive here in Manchester,” said Craig. “I’m a proud blood donor and encourage everyone to reach out to a friend, family member, or colleague and make a plan to give blood together. At the end of the summer, donations are sometimes harder to come by, and the Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive is the perfect time to help someone in need.”