Board Eliminates Sunday Business Fee

July 18, 2014
by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

Businesses looking to open on Sundays in town will no longer be required to pay a $50 fee after selectmen voted last week to eliminate the charge.

“There was concern raised that we were not charging all the commercial businesses following the Sunday sales code,” Town Manager Keith Hickey told the board.

He said no master list was available of all businesses in town and one could not be reasonably generated.  “We don’t have the capability of doing that.”

Selectman Everett McBride said Salem and Manchester are the only two towns in New Hampshire allowed to charge a fee to open a business on Sundays.

Hickey said the fee generated about $11,000 for the town annually, but revenue and number of permits issued has been slowly declining.

Selectman Michael Lyons felt the fee should be eliminated and said it cost the town over 30 percent of the revenue to process it.

“We’re spending four grand to collect 11,” Lyons said.  “That’s just not good.”

Lyons said eliminating cart and increasing tipping fees at the transfer station could make up for the loss of revenue.

Selectman Stephen Campbell feared losing the revenue would leave a larger burden on residents.

“I’d hate to give up a revenue source that’s just going to fall on the taxpayers,” he said.

Campbell suggested having a town employee work on Sundays to record which businesses were open along Route 28.  “We could, I think, create a list.”

Chairman Patrick Hargreaves said the code would have to be modified if it were to stay in place, noting multi-million dollar businesses were being charged the same as a sole proprietorship business.  He felt costs to the town were being covered by property tax.

“People pay taxes; businesses pay taxes on the property they’re on,” he said, adding the fee should be modified or eliminated.

McBride motioned to eliminate the fee beginning December 31.  The motion was approved 4-1 with Campbell in opposition.