Statute wording changed to enable Wilton and Lyndeborough to tax utility poles and rights-of-way

WILTON – Following a short public hearing on March 31, attended by a couple of residents, Wilton selectmen voted to change the language of all existing utility pole licenses to make it consistent with wording of RSA 72:23.

The change was proposed by Town Assessor Todd Hayward.

A similar hearing was held by Lyndeborough selectmen on March 26 with the same result.

Hayward said the wording wasn’t specific enough to be sure that everyone using the public right-of-way was being taxed equally.

“This forces the pole owner to identify all of the users,” he said.

What is being taxed is the use of the right-of-way, amounting to about 75 acres in Wilton. Each user is to be taxed separately.

Public Service of New Hampshire generally owns the poles and leases space to telephone and cable companies. Fairpoint has challenged the tax in the past.

Hayward said the companies have 90 days in which to respond. PSNH has said that it reserves its right to appeal.

In Lyndeborough, Selectman Lee Mayhew said in the past, the Legislature has not included telephone companies in the law.

“The poles are not considered permanent and therefore not taxed. They have changed that,” Mayhew said.

Hayward said he would have his assessment of the rights-of-way completed by Sept. 1.