May 01, 2012

Attorney General Threatens to Sue Massachusetts

The issue involves a flood control compact

According to a recent article from the Concord Monitor, the state attorney general plans to sue Massachusetts if it does not send overdue payments mandated by a 1953 flood control compact. The ultimatum came at a House committee hearing April 24 where legislators discussed how towns that gave up land under the agreement should continue to be reimbursed for the loss.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Roth told the House Ways and Means Committee that the attorney general's office plans to send an official notification to Massachusetts in late May and then file a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court if the state does not pay up by the end of the summer.

The question at hand involves the1953 Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Compact, which allowed for land seized from 18 New Hampshire communities to be used for flood control purposes. In return, downstream Massachusetts agreed to annually reimburse New Hampshire for 70% of the communities' lost tax revenue, with New Hampshire paying the rest.

About seven years ago, Massachusetts stopped paying its part, leading New Hampshire to cover the full reimbursement. But in 2011, the state paid only its 30% share, and New Hampshire has paid even less than that.

The loss has been a burden for many communities that had budgeted for the revenue, several town officials testified April 24.

In Webster, Mass., a 1% budget cut this year still resulted in a 6% tax increase due to the loss of revenue, Selectman George Cummings told the Concord Monitor.

You can read the full article here.