New Hampshire and Massachusetts At Odds Over 1953 Contract

Apr 30, 2012

The Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Compact is at the center of an argument between the two New England states.  The 1953 agreement was approved by Congress after Massachusetts requested help from New Hampshire in managing the Merrimack River flood plain.

18 New Hampshire Towns gave up a portion of their communities to build a flood control system, and in exchange, the State of New Hampshire agreed to reimburse the towns for the lost property tax values. According to the agreement, 70 percent of that funding going to the towns would come from payments made by Massachusetts.

However, in recent years officials in the Granite State say that the Bay State has not kept it’s end of the bargain, andwith the national economy still in recovery, the small New Hampshire townsare in need of the cash.

New Hampshire state Senator Andy Sanborn says that New Hampshire has recently only been paying the towns 30% of what they owe.

Sanborn has written legislation that will make sure that New Hampshire pays towns the full assessed amount regardless of what Massachusetts does.

Under current law, Sanborn says that New Hampshire could take any reimbursements from Massachusetts as back-payments until the full amount is caught up, which he said might not even make their way to the small towns.

George Cummings is the select board chair of the small town of Webster, New Hampshire. The missing funds not paid to the town this year from the state led to a loss of about $19,000. Cummings said that while the amount may be small in the grand scheme of things, he’s worried that the town will be caught in the middle and now cannot depend on the reimbursement money coming in.

The Attorney General’s office of New Hampshire has said that if a deal is not reached between the states, the Granite State could take the Bay State to federal court over the conflict surrounding the 1953 compact.

 The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs released a statement saying that they hope to reach a resolution with New Hampshire.