Bill Would Enable Towns to Tax Waterfront Property Owners to Fight Milfoil

Concord — November 20, 2010 — Since the owners of waterfront property benefit from the absence of milfoil in lakes, ponds and rivers, some believe that they should make a greater contribution toward eradicating it.

State Representative Richard Drisko (R-Hollis), who chairs the Exotic Aquatic Weeds and Species Committee of the Legislature, which has overseen the campaign to control milfoil since 2004, has introduced legislation that would enable municipalities to assess a fee on shoreland property owners, which would be dedicated to controlling milfoil on public water bodies.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Drisko remarked yesterday. He said that public awareness of the adverse effects of milfoil on natural ecosystems, water quality, recreational opportunities and property values has risen significantly, but “funding is our weakest link.”

A portion of the boat registration fee is applied to a fund administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, which each year is distributed in the form of matching grants to lake associations and municipal governments for the treatment of milfoil. The state provided funding for 14 of the 33 control efforts undertaken this year, including seven of the 12 applications of chemical herbicides on Lake Winnipesaukee and the treatment of 81 infested acres on Lake Opechee.

Drisko applauded Moultonborough, where voters at Town Meeting in March appropriated $200,000 to treat the entire shoreline, altogether some 200 acres. He said that similar major initiatives were underway in Alton and Wolfeboro. In Laconia there has historically been objection to spending large amounts of money treating milfoil on the grounds the state owns the lakes, not the city.

Noting that his bill originated with the Exotic Aquatic Weeds and Species Committee, Drisko explained that it is designed as enabling legislation that would authorize but not require municipalities to levy an assessment on waterfront property owners. The amount of the fee would be left to the discretion of the city or town, which would also be entitled to establish a capital reserve fund earmarked for the treatment of milfoil.

“As long as the proceeds are dedicated to milfoil the management of the money would be at the town’s discretion,” Drisko said.

Drisko said that there appears to be a precedent for assessing a particular class of property owners. State law, he said, authorizes municipalities to define areas, which are usually downtown, where property owners, who are most often businesses, can be assessed for specific services required by neighborhood, like street lighting or trash collection.

Drisko stressed that owners of waterfront property benefit from the control of milfoil, which protects the value of their property. Referring to a study prepared at the University of New Hampshire, he said that milfoil infestations have depressed property values as much as 25-percent.


  1. Tom 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    It would make more sense to have ALL users of the lake pay to help treat milfoil. That includes boats, canoes and kayaks etc.

  2. Elizabeth 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    This does not sound appropriate as every Town with waterfront benefits enormously from property taxes that are already higher on waterfront property than non-waterfront lots. Boat registration fees should include an “invasives” surcharge that can be directed only to managing invasives and not by syphoned off into general fund or other boater amenities like new boat ramps.

  3. Chris 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    I agree with Tom. Waterfront property owners already pay elevated property taxes. Lots of the milfoil is brought to the lake by non-property owners and they also would benefit from a reduction in this invasive weed – they should share the cost of getting rid of it.

  4. Marc 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    You wouldn’t tax a property owner if some other party dumped hazardous material in the street at the end of their driveway, even though its clean-up would benefit the owner. You’d go after the responsible party, or at least tax everyone equally. Hasn’t the discussion all along been that the invasive species has come from visiting boaters? Isn’t there a whole informational campaign directed at the visitors to wash and inspect their boats before entering the water, lest they carry in the weed? It’s very unlikely that the property owners caused or even contributed to the problem.

  5. atony 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    It wont ever work the way you suggest and here is why. Most of the shore front owners are from out of state. That means they can not vote. So if you are a state resident that will not have to pay for the clean-up BUT have the power to vote for some one else to clean it up, why not…it’s a “no brainer” for the state.
    Absolutely beautiful. Who did not see this coming? The shore front owners already pay taxes on fictitious property values that are higher than market values. why not soak them for the milfoil clean-up as well? To add insult to injury I am confident that the shore front owners did not create the milfoil problem. We are too busy trying to protect our investments.

  6. Jack 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    An inordinate percentage of the town property taxes already fall upon the waterfront property owners. I see the public boat launch packed every weekend with no cost to the recreational boater/fisherman using the lake and resources. My boat never leaves the lake, any infestation is brought in at these boat ramps by lake hoppers. Isn’t it time that we all paid to use the lakes as opposed to the burden falling upon a few..

  7. Steve ,Broadbay Ossipee 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    Again the State wants to legislate who will to be taxed to pay for Milfoil control. If they hadn’t installed the State ramp the problem may not have occured in the first place. I know that the Lake should be open to everyone for their enjoyment. If this is the course the State wants to take then Tax everybody. If this is what they do, make sure this money does not go into the General Fund but into a fund specifically for invasive weed cleanup.
    The Taxes collected by the town and state govt. from waterfront owners is probably 5 or 6 times that of nonwaterfront. Many local retirees have already been forced out of their beloved homes due to this attack on waterfront owners. This is another example of a politician not getting it.

  8. Bob Smart 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    Just another way to drain more tax money from waterfront property owners. The present system of identifying need for funds and having all tax payers decide what they are willing to spend keeps control on spending. This prolposal creats a money pit to be spent each year on procedures that have been proven not to work.

  9. Pat Clark 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    I agree with all of the above – Taxes should fall upon those who put boats in at the marina.or the boat ramp.

  10. TED 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    Our beautiful lakes benefit the entire state. Tourism is one of the largest sources of state revenue. Lodging, restaurants, shops, gas stations, State R&M taxes, everyone benefits directly or indirectly from tourism that comes to our lakes so everyone should be included in keeping them pristine.
    I also agree with previous statements that the property owners keep their boats on the lake so are not the ones that are causing the milfoil infestations. The people living away from the lake and bringing milfoil in on their boats are more the cause of the problem so certainly should be part of the solution.

  11. Werdna 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    That’s what Ossipee Lake Alliance bring you: More regulation, more taxes, public banned from public property on Long Sands. Nice work.

  12. Dianne 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    This is just foolish. The visiting boats brought the milfoil to the lakes. The State of NH owns the lake, this is a no brainer. I am a native who is retired and living on the lake. When is this state going to wake up and develop a tax base that is fair to everyone, not just homeowners. What are the numbers to call in Concord to protest.

  13. John 14 years ago November 22, 2010


    You hit the nail right on the head, I am a water front owner from MA. and we do not get to vote, and we were there way before the Milfoil problem, now it’s a big problem. Our taxes are way out of line with the fair market value and now they would like us to pay for the clean up of the Milfoil infestation that we did not have ANY involvement with in the first place. For the State of NH it’s a win, win and for the people who pay water front property taxes it’s a win, win for the towns. Keep passing it on, they know they will get it, the sad thing about all this is we will continue to pay without a vote, so much for Freedom. By the way who reads these Comments? it never does any good except to say how we feel, I’m sure none of the State Officals nor town Officals reads them, because they really don’t give a damm they get to vote.

  14. freedom taxpayer 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    We do not own a motor boat but have lakefront. Also, I agree that with each boat registration, motor or not , there should be a minimal clean-up fee. Of course letting boats use any lake for free is ludicrous. All should pay something towards the milfoil problem. I sit on a lounge chair, creating absolutely no pollution or environmental hazards, yet I own my lake side view, which I pay taxes on, but this should not mean I pay extra for milfoil cleanup. This “surcharge” should have strict enforcements , weeding , eradicating, eliminating, damaging sediment. WEEDS, if that helps you remember the root of our problem. BTW, many people read this
    blog, I am confident that this will be resolved soon. Well, sooner than the case going on at the
    Bluffs…..yikes….we can only hope.

  15. Peter 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    Seems like a classic case of taxation without representation to me. I’m already scrambling to find the means to pay this year’s tax bill (coming out very soon) and the legislature feels the need to shift the financial burden of milfoil control to those who have already been overtaxed for their seasonal enjoyment?!!!! Some of us don’t even own/operate a powerboat on the lake, but we must step forward and foot the bill for some who have carelessly brought and spread this invasive to the lake. I’m sure the local assessors will be lowering each of our assessments due to the negative effect which the milfoil infestations have brought about. Yeh! Right!

  16. atony 14 years ago November 22, 2010


    I don’t know what sort of distribution the OLA has but I do know that being a non-resident I don’t receive any local news. The OLA helps keep me informed of local issues of importance otherwise I would not know about proposals like this. The question is, after we vent, what do we do about it?? I don’t really know. The state has done a good job keeping people like us muted. I would like to see that change. Some way for those of us who are paying and contributing so much to the state have some sort of voice.
    And I can hear responses to my comments already like “shore front owners don’t wont to pay their fair share” and the like. Well that’s not it. When I first bought my property I was taxed on a valuation based upon a fair market value. My purchase price was very close to the assessed value. But now there is no way I could sell my property for the latest assessed value. The state needs money and they are looking to us to get it. It’s that simple.
    The only way we might ever have an impact is by banning together as a group and establishing a loud voice. Maybe something like the OLA is where we find other people who partner in our dismay and if there are enough of us that might be a good thing.

  17. AJ 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    The tax bills are out and, as usual, the rate has gone up. If they can’t raise the rate they will raise the assessments. I’m a New Hampshire native but may be forced out of my home due to high taxes and unfair fees. When a person retires and their income goes down, their taxes should go down accordingly, but not in NH. We need a Homestead Exemption Law to help retirees who wish to remain in their homes after retirement. I agree with most of the
    comments already made! Don’t take it out on the waterfront residents who are already paying their fair share and then some!

  18. James Redmond 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    I agree with those who feel the idea of taxing only shorefront owners to provide revenue for fight the milfoil problem is a capricious and arbitrary practice. We already pay a larger land tax because of the locations of our properties. The lake is a natural resource that can be enjoyed by everyone so everyone should share in its care.

  19. Nina 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    Does the Lake Ossipee organization intend to send a letter to State Representative Richard Drisko (R-Hollis), to apprise him of the fact that it is not the waterfront property owners that are the major cause of the millfoil. We all care about the health of our lake and most of us keep our boats in the lake while some of us do not even have a boat at all. While we may agree to pay a small amount to protect our investment, we certainly should not be the only ones paying for it. Visitors bringing their boats from the outside should pay a significantly larger share as they are the ones who cause the problem.

  20. willy 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    Why is it nobody is blaming the birds for their part in transfering the invasive plant seeds.?
    There’s one hell of a lot more of them than there are boat launchers.
    I think we should stop smoking the invasive weed and all share in the problem.
    Nature has once again dealt us an issue that affects us all. Remember the gypsy moth a few years back.

  21. Don MacLeod 14 years ago November 22, 2010

    If this proposed bill passes we can bring pretty much everything we need up with us and really don’t need to spend another discretionary nickel in the state of New Hampshire. My thinking would be that if you’re to be made to ride in the back of the bus.. the walking will certainly do you more good.

  22. Tom E 14 years ago November 23, 2010

    It seems to me this is one more example of the state nickel and diming people for one thing after another rather than approach legitimate needs in any comprehensive, systematic basis. (If that sounds like a broad-based tax, maybe some day we’ll wake up and realize that it’s inevitable and that it’s the only way to curtail these silly stopgap measures.)

    Secondly, why should shoreline owners be susceptible to such a tax? On the one hand, the state claims ownership of lakes but now contemplates forcing a selected class of the citizenry — shoreline owners — to pay for addressing a problem on state property. On the other hand, what about all those other folks who use the lakes but don’t own property? Many of the folks who own the boats parading in front of our place would not be subject to the proposed tax, but they are using — and presumably enjoying — the lake just as we do.

  23. BeachGirl 14 years ago November 23, 2010

    Until the lakefront property owners in Ossipee stop doing everything in their power to keep boatless people off the shores of Ossipee Lake I cannot and will not care about milfoil in the water. You’ve convinced the State that it’s your lake and you will not allow families to enjoy the lake unless they have a boat. You and the State can figure out how to keep it clean.

  24. Tom 14 years ago November 23, 2010

    I don’t recall any effort by property owners to keep anyone off the lake. The towns have just as much opportunity to buy property as private individuals and provide access to their residents but I doubt the taxpayers would approve of that either. property owners pay a hefty price to enjoy the lake. There are many free options for local residents to enjoy all that the lake has to offer. I pay almost 3000 a month for my access to the lake and I have never tried to deny anyone access.

  25. Steve Foley 14 years ago November 23, 2010

    Someone mentioned earlier they wanted to do something other than vent on this site. First of all OLA is a tremendous asset to the region; look here for one thing, we are talking about milfoil and taxation.
    My point: Write letters, you and friends and family, to the editors of newspapers, personally contact the papers and speak to someone on the editorial staff and for God’s sake, write the state Reps and Senators.

  26. BeachGirl 14 years ago November 24, 2010

    I recall a very recent campaign with forceful opposition aimed at keeping the non-boating public away from Ossipee Lake. There was interest in a partnership between the Town of Ossipee and NH DRED to turn a portion of Ossipee Lake Natural Area into a town beach. Property owners went nuts. I have absolutely no sympathy for the lakefront property owners and their complaints of high taxes. Not many year-round residents of this area do. The lakefront property was under-assessed for so long and was finally brought up to market value. I know it was a shock for the first couple of years but I am glad to see they are finally paying and equal and fair share. It’s just so sad that a lake bearing the town’s name is not accessible to its people. Shame. If you want to make the people care about the health of the lake try sharing it.

  27. atony 14 years ago November 24, 2010


    Are you talking about Long Sands?

  28. Ossipee Lake 14 years ago November 24, 2010

    Both Freedom and Ossipee provide public access to the lake for non-boaters. Freedom owns a beach on Pequawket Trail and Ossipee owns one in Constitution Park. While Freedom permits swimming at its site, Ossipee does not. Near-by residents say neither of the town beaches receives much use. The Town of Ossipee has three times applied to lease state land for a beach in Ossipee Lake Natural Area – in 1988, 1999 and 2004. The town withdrew the first proposal before the state could rule on it, and the other two proposals were denied by state officials for environmental reasons.

  29. Fred 14 years ago November 27, 2010

    You have got to be kidding me, Lake front owners pay three to four times more than everyone else already. It was you tourist who constanly put your boats in and out of the lakes who brought the milfoil in in the first place!!!!!!!!!!! And how much taxes are you paying Beach Girl to use Long Sands for free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. BeachGirl 14 years ago December 3, 2010

    Of course the “town beach” at Consitution Park doesn’t get much use! It is posted no swimming because it is too dangerous there. Good grief. Easy Fred… need to yell. Of course you pay more in taxes to be on the lake because if you sell your place it will bring a higher price. That’s how assessment works in NH. Boooohooo. The town of Ossipee should have a well-maintained and monitored public swimming beach on Ossipee Lake. Period. Surely it would be taken care of a lot better than it is now with the insanity that congregates and defecates in it every weekend in the crazy boat-a-palooza!

  31. BeachGirl 14 years ago December 3, 2010

    @ Ossipee Lake……….”denied for environmental reasons”…….nonsense. “denied due to hysteria” is more like it.

  32. Chris 14 years ago December 3, 2010

    BeachGirl – As a property owner on the lake I appreciate your desire for a public beach and would support its creation – even pay taxes for it. But, I also believe that it is unfair to soak the property owners for the additional cost of cleaning up the milfoil. Our taxes already pay for significant town services that benefit all the residents of the town. In fact, 53% of the tax revenue for the town comes from the lake property owners, who probably represent less than 5% of the total population and because many of us don’t live there permanently we are not even a drain on the town’s resources – my road is not plowed. The sad fact is that lake real estate is not selling, prices have tumbled in recent years but our taxes have gone up not down. I just received my December tax bill, it is $750 higher this year compared to last year.

  33. BeachGirl 14 years ago December 3, 2010

    Chris – perhaps user fees collected at a public beach could partially be used to offset the cost of milfoil cleanup. I think the majority of people in the Lakes Region, but particularly Ossipee, do not care about milfoil in the lake. A greater effort to make it “our” lake instead of “your” lake would go a long way toward changing the apathy about the issue.

  34. Chris 14 years ago December 4, 2010

    All of us should care about milfoil in the lake, if we don’t, there will be no lake for anyone.

  35. Lee 14 years ago December 4, 2010

    The measure Rep. Drisko proposes is to “allow” a Town to raise a fee on shoreline owners but “not require” it. Therefore even if this measure were to be passed, it would be up to our individual towns to decide how to go forward. Hopefully our towns would be cognizant of the amount we as shorefront owners already pay.

    Many of us have been here for generations and that is the only way that we are able to be here at this time.


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