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Testimony Of Corey R. Lewandowski Before The Senate Executive Departments And Administration Committee, Feb 2, 2012

February 02, 2012 J

Madam Chairwoman and members of the Committee, my name is Corey Lewandowski and I am the State Director of Americans for Prosperity here in New Hampshire. I am here today to speak in support of SB 227.

To put it simply, the Board of Tax & Land Appeals (BTLA) is a dinosaur – an antiquated relic that is no longer a vital or vibrant part our system and is in dire need of modification if it is to continue operating.

According to the BTLA’s website, “the Board’s goals are to provide an alternative forum to the superior court in tax cases that is timely, fair, inexpensive, and accessible to the taxpayers and property owners. The Board has responsibility, parallel to the superior court to hear appeals of all local and state taxes.”

In order words, the Board was created to help adjudicate taxpayers’ concerns by establishing a peer organization from which persons could seek recourse from a decision at the local
level.

However it is clear both in correspondence from the BTLA as well as their operating budget, they are failing to meet many of their own goals as they are neither inexpensive nor accessible to the taxpayers and property owners the Board was created to serve.

The proposed operating budget for the BTLA for fiscal year 2011 was more than $1.1 million dollars – $1,155,517 to be exact with $350,523 projected for Personal Services Classified; $300,140 for Personal Services Unclassified; $316, 595 set aside for Benefits; and $10,000 allocated for Additional Fringe Benefits.

This represents a phenomenal waste of state money and fails to meet nearly anyone’s definition of inexpensive.

With regard to accessibility, the BTLA does not maintain adequate records or make such records accessible to taxpayers as they should especially in light of the price tag just laid out in its operating budget.

As is evidenced in multiple pieces of correspondence with the BTLA, they fail to appropriately track the cases they hear and can provide no information to taxpayers with regard to the outcomes of those cases that come before them, and I quote, “The Board does not keep statistics of how many cases are granted or denied.”

I strongly believe that the members of the BTLA whom are appointed by the Supreme Court which is appointed by the Governor and therefore do not go through the Executive Council should not be full-time employees but rather should be paid on a per diem basis and receive mileage reimbursement as is set forth in SB 227.

The $25 per diem established in SB 227 would place the BTLA members in line with the per diem compensation received by the majority of other board members in the state and would provide a significant savings for the New Hampshire taxpayers that the BTLA was designed to serve.

Some may argue that this change in compensation will be a disincentive for quality people to serve on the BTLA but as I sit before you this morning, I believe that each of you can attest that not everyone who enters into public service does so for the paycheck.

With that in mind, I urge you to support SB 227 which will save money and bring the BTLA closer to the people it aims to serve.

Thank you.

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