Mayor Craig provides Concord with testimony on items addressing municipal aid, homelessness

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Mayor Joyce Craig

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The past week has given two examples of how Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig’s duties don’t end at the Queen City’s borders.

Earlier this week, she gave testimony to the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee on the proposed state budget.

In April, she joined a group of mayors from all of New Hampshire’s cities asking the committee to consider the impact New Hampshire’s budgets have had on municipal governments and local property taxpayers over the past decade.

Her primary concern focused on a loss of revenue to municipalities from Meals and Rooms Tax distribution. Originally created with a 60/40 split between the state and municipalities, the local share of that tax has been trending downward since 2011, with the City of Manchester losing $41 million over that timeframe from the reduced share of the tax.

Craig also voiced concern over RSA 31-A revenue sharing, which sees the state return a portion of revenues to cities and towns for their unrestricted use. That has been suspended since Fiscal Year 2009, seeing a loss of over $300 million to municipalities statewide, including $47 million in Manchester.

“These are just two examples in a long list of downshifted costs and lost revenues to local communities, all while the State is touting an over $160 million revenue surplus for the year. From state pension costs to state aid grants, the State of New Hampshire continues to renege on its commitments to our municipalities and our local taxpayers,” said Craig to the committee. “Our cities and towns will continue to provide all the necessary services to our residents, who rightfully expect their trash to be collected, their streets to be repaved, and their calls to emergency services like police and firefighters, to be answered quickly. But in return, I ask that the Senate Finance Committee prioritize these services that our municipalities provide and put an end to this unsustainable downshifting.”

On Wednesday, she sent written testimony to the New Hampshire Executive Council regarding an agenda item touching on homelessness.

In the agenda item, the Executive Council discussed amending an existing vendor contract with vendors involved with the state’s homeless assistance program.

While the amendment would almost double the amount of funding going to the program and extend it from the end of this June to the end of June 2023, it would reduce the amount of grant allocations per year approximately $1.5 million in the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years compared to if the contracts were allowed to go on at current rates.

The amendment would mark a 17 percent reduction on grant allocations statewide and a 29 percent reduction in grants to Manchester organizations helping individuals facing housing instability.

“I am hopeful these concerns can be addressed by the Executive Council. Homelessness is a statewide issue, and the best way we can make a widespread collective impact is by working together and utilizing resources in the most effective way to help individuals living unhoused,” she said in the letter to the Executive Committee.