While the Right To Know Study Commission is out trying to gut RSA91-A, we at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers were with our Town of Windsor members in Hillsborough Superior Court in Manchester on Thursday arguing for full disclosure of financial records of the Town we have been asking for since March.
Page 17 of the Windsor Town Report had no figures for any column in the Tax Collectors report, just a scrawled statement that they were not ready at printing time. (going back several years)
We filed our RTK case on Tuesday last week and had a hearing date set for May 31 at 1:30 pm. We wound up with Judge Abramson for our judge. She is pretty good on the Right To Know Law.
The Town of Windsor is represented by the Hatfield/Upton firm, and some lawyer named Paul Apple did the talking for the Town Thursday.
This apple had a shine on him when we were done. The judge has not issued an Order yet she but informed everyone that she was sure Attorney Apple would work with us in the future to make sure we receive all the documents we ask to review.
And, we were issued our costs by Judge Abramson as well. I call that a win!
Now the inside stuff:
During the hearing attorney Apple admitted to the court that the selectmen could not give us a list of property tax liens because THERE WEREN’T ANY. He said it WAS THE POLICY OF THE SELECTMEN NOT TO LIEN PROPERTY WITH BACK TAXES!
So obviously our next 91-A request will be: When did the Windsor Selectmen vote to NOT lien past due property taxes.
We have also been asking how many people are past due and for how long. Our requests go back to 2000. The town attorney said they have a list written out in long hand but we haven’t seen that yet.
We filed our case last week with local taxpayer, Everett “Eb” Chamberlain, as the pro se litigant. The case was as short as possible, just over one page.
But we had been building a list of requests since March – specific requests. And we took notes of the Selectmen’s meetings as well.
Attorney Apple though he would pull a fast one on our guy and drop his Answer to our Petition on us minutes before the hearing so we would not have a chance to read it thoroughly.
So we don’t feel so bad dropping our 36 pages of unanswered, specific, 91-A requests on him AND JUDGE ABRAMSON during the hearing.
Surprise, Attorney Apple! You are about to learn some of the fine points of municipal taxation the hard way because I doubt the Windsor Selectmen have been totally honest with you so far.
And here is Attorney Apple’s problem:
He chose to be the lawyer for the Selectmen and even argued against the taxpayers getting out-of-pocket costs for bringing this case. Not smart.
What he SHOULD have done was make damn sure the Selectmen and Tax Collector are being honest with him and the taxpayers because as the town Attorney - he is in the end, paid by the taxpayers.
In essence, whether he likes it or not, he is representing all parties and should have been impartial. But he was going for the big “win” and now none of us trust him.
Judge Abramson probably hasn’t looked at the 36 pages of 91-A requests that went ignored yet but we hope she takes them into consideration when she writes her Order.
Next we figure out how much Windsor property tax revenue is supposed to come in and how much really has.
Back to the 91-A drawing board, I’m so glad Attorney Apple has agreed to cooperate.