There is a proposal to raise tolls on New Hampshire’s turnpike system, reports Robert J. Sculley, executive director of the Oil Heat Council of New Hampshire.
“According to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, this toll proposal will generate an additional $36 million in revenue for the ‘acceleration and expansion of Turnpike capital projects,’” Sculley writes in a Nov. 29 email to Council members. Here, slightly edited and condensed, is the rest of Sculley’s message to members:
“Toll rates are set by the New Hampshire Executive Council, unlike the ‘gas tax’ which is debated and voted on by the New Hampshire General Court (New Hampshire House and Senate). If the toll rate increase is approved by the executive councilors, the majority of the toll transactions in the state of New Hampshire will increase by 50%. The commercial motor vehicle rate will become twice the class-one passenger rate, which is displayed on a graph in the proposal.
“Herein lies the problem: There are five executive councilors and it takes only three to approve a toll increase. [Three executive councilors] are in support of this massive toll increase.
“If you are opposed to this increase, I am recommending the following course of action: It is extremely important that the executive councilors and the governor’s office hear from you as soon as possible. Their contact information is below.
“Additionally, a public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. at the Portsmouth Public Library for the purpose of public input on this toll proposal which I hope you will attend. The Portsmouth Public Library is at 175 Parrott Ave., in Portsmouth.
“Unless you are in favor of an increase in tolls, it is critically important that you show up at this meeting to voice your opposition. I am very afraid that there will be many in the room that will be in support of this proposed increase.
“Please make phone calls if you can as I have found that they can be the most effective form of communication. E-mail addresses are provided if you do not have the opportunity to call.
“Here are a few talking points to use:
The New Hampshire Turnpike system is fully funded. There is enough cash to pay for current projects.
The state raised the gas tax 4.5 cents per gallon only three years ago. This generated approximately $32 million in new funds that are dedicated for use on New Hampshire’s roads and bridges.
“This is important because the toll increase proposal is intended for the state to purchase a part of the highway through Concord (between Exits 14 to north of Exit 15) making it part of the turnpike system. As part of that transaction, according to NH DOT, that would free up $180 million to be used on non-turnpike system roads and bridges.
“That discussion should be part of a legislative hearing with multiple opportunities for public input.
“Please, let the executive councilors know of the direct-cost impact to your business on a monthly and annual basis, i.e., the expected cost increase of goods and services to your customers and the impact on your employees.”
Sculley closed by asking members, “Please let me know if you plan to attend the hearing on Monday evening in Portsmouth. It would be great if you can attend. Also, please provide me with any feedback that you receive from the executive councilors.” Sculley can be reached at the Oil Heat Council of New Hampshire, 19 Henniker St., Concord, at 603-415-8330 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the contact information for the executive councilors and the governor’s office:
New Hampshire Executive Councilors
District 1 – Councilor Joseph D. Kenney
P O Box 201, Union, NH 03887 email: email@example.com
Executive Council Office: 603-271-3632 Cell: 603-581-8780 Home Office: 603-473-2569
District 2 – Councilor Andru Volinsky
488 Shaker Road, Concord NH 03301 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Council Office: 603-271-3632 Home Office: 603-491-0376
District 3 – Councilor Russell E. Prescott
50 Little River Road, Kingston NH 03848 email: email@example.com
Executive Council Office: 603-271-3632 Cell: 603-231-7822
District 4 – Councilor Christopher C. Pappas
629 Kearney Circle, Manchester NH 03104 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Council Office: 603-271-3632 Cell: 603-867-8438
District 5 – Councilor David K. Wheeler
523 Mason Road, Milford NH 03055 email: email@example.com
Executive Council Office: 603-271-3632 Home Office: 603-672-6062
Governor’s Transportation Liaison: Harold Parker