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Brattleboro tax rate to rise in next year

Funding for skatepark, sidewalk plow contribute to increase

BRATTLEBORO—Property taxes are going up.

For Fiscal Year 2019, Brattleboro landowners will pay $1.2746 per $100 of assessed value for their municipal property tax. The Selectboard approved this rate at the July 3 regular meeting.

Town Manager Peter B. Elwell noted this is 5.51 cents more than last year’s rate.

It’s also more than the original budget called for. During the FY19 budget talks, Elwell and the Selectboard supported a 3.6-cent increase.

Elwell explained the extra 1.91 cents. At March’s Representative Town Meeting, “there were additional actions taken to provide additional funding for the skatepark and [...] for the second sidewalk plow,” which added to the tax rate, he said.

“This year’s increase is above average,” Elwell told The Commons.

The recommended tax rate is driven by two considerations: what the town needs in taxes to support the budget, and the grand list calculation.

In late winter and early spring, the Selectboard, using information supplied by municipal staff, comes up with a proposed budget for the following fiscal year. Then, Representative Town Meeting is tasked with approving the budget.

Throughout the spring, the town assessor works on the grand list calculation, and completes it around June 1. Then, the Board of Listers holds appeals hearings from property owners seeking adjustments on their parcels’ valuations.

After the assessor and the listers review the grand list, it gets “lodged,” which is statutory terminology for sending the grand list to the state.

Once municipal staff knows the taxable value of property in town, and how much they need to collect to fund the town’s budget, they calculate the tax rate.

This year, the grand list is valued at $11,610,387.32. The general fund operations budget is $14,798,643.

Brattleboro property owners will actually pay more than $1.2746 in taxes for FY19 — this figure is just the municipal portion.

Add to that $0.0016 for the “local agreement,” which all property owners pay.

Those who own land in the Downtown Improvement District will pay almost 13 cents extra to cover the $78,000 Downtown Brattleboro Alliance budget.

Tri-Park property owners will pay a “special assessment rate” of $6.8785 to fund recent utility upgrades.

The state wants their share, too. The homestead education tax rate is $1.5825, and is down by 0.0151 cents from last year’s amount. For commercial properties, apartment buildings, and non-primary homes, the non-residential education tax rate is $1.5144.

This means that a homeowner living outside of the DID, not in the Tri-Park neighborhood, and whose property is their primary residence will pay a homestead tax rate of $2.8587. For a home valued at $200,000, the owner will pay $5,717.40 in total property taxes in FY19.

This represents an increase of $79.40 over last year’s taxes.

The total non-residential tax rate is $2.7906. A property valued at $200,000 will cost the owner $5,581.20 in taxes this year, and is up by $227 from FY18.

Selectboard Chair Kate O’Connor noted that while the Selectboard sets the municipal tax rate, “we’re only responsible for less than half” of the total property tax rate.

Elwell invited the public to view his memorandum on the FY19 property tax rates by visiting the town’s website at brattleboro.org.

“Go to the homepage [...] and click on the right side of that for ’FY19 tax rate’ and this information will pop up,” said Elwell, who noted the document includes the “actual tax impact” for different home valuations.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #467 (Wednesday, July 11, 2018). This story appeared on page A1.

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