By Kimberly Morin
Last night the Raymond Board of Selectmen had their regular meeting. At the end of this meeting, Town Manager brought up a series of Right-to-Know requests that Political Buzz sent yesterday regarding the Police Department Proposal, Food Service Outsourcing Proposal and the elementary school renovations proposal. Wheeler also brought up the article written yesterday – Unpaid taxes and contaminated hides: There’s something rotten in the Town of Raymond. It seems they were none too happy that they were being exposed for failure to collect taxes along with the failure of the Chairman of the Board to actually pay his own taxes on time, along with other various elected officials in the town.
Wheeler claims there is a “tremendous amount of misinformation” in the article written then goes on to verify that indeed there are contaminated hides all over Raymond. He verifies that the board knows where these hides are located on private property and have made the decision not to collect back taxes on any of these particular properties (if owed) for the same reasons former selectman William Hoitt stated in the video posted in the article. Wheeler also pointed out the same exact report that Political Buzz stated regarding areas the EPA cleaned up.
Wheeler then makes the same exact claim that was posted in the article, taken from the town’s annual report, that 98% of property taxes had been paid. The number was questioned given the high amount of unpaid taxes. He actually verified exactly what was reported. He then states that some of the 2016 taxes due have since been paid in full as of last week. Political Buzz will be requesting a new report to verify and will update the article when that is received. The report used was run as of January 19th. That is clear in the report dates if you actually click on the link to the report.
Wheeler also seems to be confused about the liens and deed process. Political Buzz only discussed the liens process, again, quoted right from the annual report as to when the process begins. It was left at that and not taken any further.
Colleen West-Coates, another board member who isn’t running for re-election, decided to respond to the article making the same claims about inaccuracies. Her reasoning: “I have nothing to lose so I don’t care. I’m not up for re-election.” As a current board member, West-Coates lied during the board meeting about the article. Not only did she claim the facts, as reported from the town’s own report and from the New Hampshire Registry of Deeds about back taxes, were inaccurate but she claimed the article was “fake news.” West-Coates also claimed the article was written only to get people to go to New Hampshire Political Buzz so money could be earned from ads.
Board member Jonathon Woods chimed in along with this lie as well. Anyone can go to Political Buzz and see there aren’t any ads on the site. There are no ads to speak of. The site is not monetized. The people who write for Political Buzz do so to out the corruption and lies of people like those who sit on the Raymond Board of Selectmen. They do so freely because they believe taxpayers and residents of New Hampshire deserve better than corrupt politicians.
Chairman Gregory Bemis, who habitually pays his taxes extremely late, claimed it’s because he is a construction worker. “You pay your bills and you do them timely when you can do them.” How many other construction workers live in Raymond and manage to pay their property taxes on time every year? Does the board really agree with the excuse that people should just pay their bills whenever they can? How fair is that to those who always pay their property taxes on time?
There were indeed two inaccuracies in the original article – Alissa Welch, who hasn’t paid taxes and indeed has liens because of it, is running for the planning board, not the board of selectmen. The bond for the proposed elementary school renovations is over $9.4 million, not $13.4 million. Both have been updated with a note about the correction. Neither are consequential to the fact that the Raymond Board of Selectmen is ignoring a huge problem with collecting back taxes all while supporting increasing taxes on the citizens they are supposed to represent.
The Raymond Board of Selectmen isn’t being honest. They ignored the elected officials who habitually don’t pay their taxes on time. They ignored the fact that they indeed have a tax collection issue in general. How many people are living on contaminated property in the town and are chumps still paying their property taxes? Why in the hell isn’t the board doing anything about these contaminated properties? How, in good conscience, can they just allow all this contaminated property to exist across the town? What are the effects on the ground, the water and the residents of Raymond?
There indeed is something rotten in the Town of Raymond and it appears to be the board of selectmen. These people are so arrogant they believe the residents of Raymond are uneducated and uninformed. They have zero respect for the people they are supposed to be representing. Not only are they outright lying to their own constituents, they are doubling down on their lies for fear of actually being caught in the corrupt web of deceit they are spinning. Raymond residents deserve better.
UPDATE: As promised, Political Buzz is updating the story with the new 2016 tax information. The information and report is produced by the Raymond Town Clerk/Tax Collector and everyone has access to this information as it is public. The report was run as of today and indeed some tax payments for 2016 were received in the past month. This is great news for Raymond taxpayers. The balance owed on 2016 taxes is now $576,251. As of this date, Bernie ‘Garland’ Peer has indeed paid his 2016 property taxes. None of the others listed in the previous article have paid their 2016 taxes in full. The report wasn’t run for any other years.
What’s not good news is that Raymond’s 2016 Annual Report shows a total balance of ‘estimated uncollected property taxes’ as $2,273,583. If you extract the 2016 balance from this total, that means the total amount of uncollected taxes that start from 2015 and go back are $1,697,332. That is still a shockingly large amount. There is another line item in the report that says ‘uncollected taxes’ but it doesn’t specify what taxes are included in that amount. That amount is $2,047,265.
Bottom line is the board of selectmen aren’t being honest with Raymond citizens who do actually pay their taxes. Even when answers are demanded, the board arrogantly refuses to be held accountable.