Description of Strafford County
Strafford County is located in the southeastern corner of New Hampshire and includes three cities and ten towns. All three cities and one town have populations exceeding 10,000. According to the 2000 federal census estimates, it has a population of 112,233.
The County is bordered on the north by Carroll County; on the south by Rockingham County; on the east by the State of Maine; and on the west by Merrimack and Belknap Counties.
The City of Rochester is the largest City in the seacoast region and is located in the middle of Strafford County. It is 40 miles east of Manchester, New Hampshire, 70 miles northeast of Boston, Massachusetts, and 285 miles from New York, New York.
Form of Government
The County is administered by a three-member Board of Commissioners, elected for two year terms by the voters. The County’s budget, debt, and tax levies are authorized by a County Convention or “Delegation” consisting of all members of the House of Representatives elected from the cities and towns within the County.
The Cities of Rochester, Dover, and Somersworth are governed by an elected mayor and council and employee full-time city managers. The ten towns elect Boards of Selectmen of 3 or 5 members.
The County provides the County Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Dispatch Center Registry of Deeds, Commissioners and Treasurer’s Office, Finance Department, Human Services Department, Department of Corrections, and a County Nursing Home.
Strafford County is easily accessible by air, with nearby airports in Manchester, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts. The city of Rochester is home to the Skyhaven Airport, which provides public and private flight services, full service FBO, flight instruction scenic rides and pilot services.
The area is served by trucking and bus companies. COAST is the public, non-profit system that provides mass public transportation in Strafford and Rockingham Counties. It connects the communities and the seacoast. C&J Trailways, with a hub in Portsmouth with stops in Dover and Durham, is used to shuttle commuters to points south to Boston, including Logan International Airport, South Station, and downtown. Greyhound and Vermont Transit lines offer daily stops in nearby Portsmouth.
Easy access of rail provides an alternative means for manufacturers to transport their products and raw materials. A north-south commuter train runs daily from Portland to Boston with stops in this region.
Major highways include routs 4, 9, 11, 108, 125, 202 and the Spaulding Turnpike (Route 16), a four-lane, limited access highway. This expressway provides easy access to Interstate 95, a super highway which runs form Maine’s Canadian border to the tip of Florida, the Pease International Trade Port, Boston’s Logan Airport, Manchester Airport, and Portland International Jetport, and the Port of Portsmouth. Route 202 provides a direct westerly route to Concord and an easterly route to Portland, Maine. Also, Route 125 connects with Route 101 offering connections to Manchester, NH.
Under the provisions of R.S.A. 24:21-a, prior to January 15th of each year, the County Commissioners are required to deliver or mail to each member of the County Convention, to the chairman of the Board of Selectmen in each town, to the mayor of each city within the County, and the Secretary of State, their itemized recommendations for the amounts necessary to be raised for the County in the following year, including a detailed description of the manner in which the money is to be expended, together with a statement of actual expenditures and income for at least nine months of the preceding calendar year. A public hearing on the Commissioners proposed budget for each fiscal is held within twenty (20) days of its publication and final action on the budget is taken prior to March 31 of each year. (The Commissioners’ budget becomes law if not enacted by the County Convention within 90 days after the beginning of the fiscal year—January 1).
Apportionment of County Costs
The annual budget, including all capital and operating costs, is approved by the County Convention. The budget is submitted to the State’s Department of Revenue Administration, where the tax liability of each unit is calculated based upon each unit’s equalized valuation.
Under R.S.A. 29:11 the County Treasurer issues the Warrant to each of the municipal units for their portion of the tax levy. Taxes are generally due December 17th of each year, after which interest is charged daily at ten (10) percent on amounts that are overdue.
County officials state that there have never been late payments over the last nineteen (19) years, by any municipality of the County for its county taxes.
Municipal Employee Bargaining Organizations
Pursuant to the New Hampshire R.S.A. 273-A, all public employees in the State of New Hampshire have the right to organize and to bargain collectively with their public employers on matters of wages, hours, and other conditions of employment other than managerial policy. The following identifies Strafford County’s municipal labor organizations, and the approximate number of employees in the bargaining unit. New Hampshire law provides for no third-party determination of wages and conditions of employment, so that the local appropriating or legislative body has final authority over these items.
Employees Organization Employees
Riverside Rest Home State Employees Assoc. 227
& House of Corrections
The County seat of Strafford is the beautiful City of Dover, located along the meandering Cocheco River.
Strafford County, named in honor of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, was organized in 1773 as one of the five original counties. The County was originally called Hilton's Point, Cocheco, Dover Point and Dover Neck (depending on the locality). Strafford's river and ocean access made it an ideal location for sawmills and shipbuilding, two of the strong industries in the 1600s.
The Gonic Woolen Mill was formed in 1811 in Rochester and, in 1827, the Cocheco Manufacturing Company helped establish Dover as a leading producer of cotton goods. Brickmaking and shoemaking were also prominent industries in the latter 1800s. Rochester's combination opera house and city hall was built in 1908, one of only four such structures built in New England (another was in Dover). Only the Rochester building is still standing. The floor of the building can be raised in the back for viewing the stage or lowered flat for dances or other events.
Strafford is the smallest county in New Hampshire with a total land area of 370 square miles. It is bordered by Maine to the east, separated by the Salmon Falls and the Piscataqua Rivers. Strafford County’s two largest cities are Rochester, pop. 27,254, and Dover, pop. 25,718. The county's total population is 106,506. Prominent employment sectors are construction, printing and publishing, communication, retail trade, life insurance, computer networking and services.
Strafford County is comprised of three cities - Dover, Rochester and Somersworth; and 10 towns - Barrington, Durham, Farmington, Lee, Madbury, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Rollinsford, and Strafford.
The University to New Hampshire is located in Durham. Also found in Strafford County are Granite State College and the College for Lifelong Learning in Durham. The New Hampshire Farm Museum in Milton offers a glimpse at this important aspect of the state's history and economy, as does a drive along Dover Point Road which takes you by the Tuttle Farm, established in 1632, the country's oldest family farm. On Route 4 in Durham, another one of the country's oldest family farms, the Emery Farm was established in 1655.