Arsenic Fact of the Day: Will arsenic increase my taxes? No. But...

One of the more thought-provoking questions at the public hearing on January 18 came from Island Park resident Laura Rogers about the relationship of the capping project to taxes. Here's the transcript and what the DEM said in the Beneficial Use Determination (BUD), available on the DEM web site.

Laura Rogers
Is my taxes gonna be increased due to my front yard being arsenic blown on it?
Public hearing transcript, page 16, lines 8-10

While Ms. Rogers' initial question has a simple answer, the larger implications outlined in the DEM response should give every taxpayer in Portsmouth pause:

Will taxes increase because arsenic is blowing on it?

The Department does not understand how windblown dust would increase taxes. However, we understand the concern about how the site could affect the Town’s finances. The Town is financially responsible for closure of the landfill under both the Department and Federal EPA regulations if the closure no longer occurs under the voluntary landfill closure program via the approved APE plan.

Both the Department and the Federal EPA have the right to pursue enforcement action against the Town, including requiring the Town to complete the closure of the site, assessing fines or seeking reimbursement for work done by federal or state agencies. Also, the Bona Fide Perspective Purchaser Agreement with APE does not prevent either party from pursuing reimbursement from responsible parties.

Read those last two grafs again. If those seeking to block APE have their way, the town is on the hook for a cleanup and cap.

Do you care about your taxes?

Editorial note: I strongly encourage anyone who lives in Island Park to read the entire BUD and get the facts.