Lynch threatens Romney on flood control $$$

Gov. John Lynch yesterday told Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that New Hampshire would take action if the commonwealth doesn’t pay more than $3 million it owes several New Hampshire communities for the cost of flood control dams.

“Nearly 50 years ago, New Hampshire communities agreed to sacrifice land and future property tax revenues in order to build flood control dams to help protect the people of Massachusetts. We saw during the floods of Mother’s Day weekend just how valuable those dams were in saving lives and property,” Lynch said.

But, Lynch said, “despite the proven value of these dams to the citizens of Massachusetts,” the Bay State “is still reneging on the commitments it made when our two states established the flood control system. It’s time for Massachusetts to meet its obligations and pay what it owes New Hampshire, or we will take legal action.”

New Hampshire and Massachusetts entered the Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Compact in 1957. Under the compact, Massachusetts agreed to reimburse New Hampshire for 70 percent of the amount of property taxes lost because of the acquisition and ownership of the dams and reservoirs comprising the Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Project.

Massachusetts made no payment to New Hampshire in 1994, only partial payments from 1995 to 2002, and has not paid anything since 2003.

In a letter to Romney, Lynch said the lost tax revenues have toped $500,000 each year since 1998.

According to calculations from the state Department of Revenue Administration, Massachusetts currently owes New Hampshire more than $3.2 million. The state of New Hampshire has been making up the difference for local New Hampshire communities.

In addition to refusing to pay its bills, Massachusetts also has refused to designate an arbiter to the board of arbitration set up by the compact to resolve any disputes over payments. New Hampshire designated its arbiter in 1997.

“In the event that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not promptly commit to pay in full its 70 percent share for fiscal years 1994 to 2006, or to designate a representative from Massachusetts as a member of the board of arbitration, I intend to direct the attorney general of New Hampshire to commence legal proceedings to enforce the compact,” Lynch wrote Romney. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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