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Town and Village

Property taxes due Sept. 15

BRATTLEBORO—Brattleboro property owners have an extra month to make their first fiscal-year 2017 tax payment.

Although first-quarter property tax payments are historically due in August, Selectboard Chair David Gartenstein announced at a recent board meeting that this year they are due Sept. 15.

The remaining quarterly payments will come due on the 15th of November, February, and May.

According to Gartenstein and Town Manager Peter Elwell, the Sept. 15 due date still complies with timelines outlined in state statute.

Elwell explained that the town must mail tax bills 30 days before the payments are due.

Before the Assessors office can mail bills, however, the Listers must file the “abstract,” or draft version, of the Grand List, hear grievances, and then finalize the Grand List, an aggregate valuation of taxable property within the town.

This year the whole process has experienced delays so the property tax bills won’t be ready until early August.

The delay occurred for a variety of reasons, Elwell said. A reduction in staff was one reason.

Last summer, in an effort to find efficiencies and cut expenses, the town eliminated a part-time position in the then four-person Assessor’s office, Elwell said.

When various issues cropped up, the town discovered that a three-person Assessors department was less nimble. Elwell said the reduced staffing “left us with little margin for error. Lesson learned.”

Elwell said the town will review staffing levels in the department.

Elwell feels its unlikely the town will need to borrow money to compensate for receiving tax payments a month later than usual.

The town has a practice of squirreling away 10 percent of its operating expenses. This 10-percent fund balance should bridge expenses until tax monies start coming in — unless there’s a Tropical Storm Irene-level event, Elwell said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #364 (Wednesday, July 6, 2016). This story appeared on page C2.

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