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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Wilmington voters to consider 1-percent local option tax

Additional funds could be used for flood recovery, but not education expenses

WILMINGTON—Voters will consider a new tax for the town during its annual Town Meeting on March 6.

The tax, called a 1-percent option tax, would add another percentage point to taxable sales, meals and alcoholic beverages, and rooms.

According to state statute, voters approve the enacting of the option tax and can also rescind it later.

The 1-percent option tax will not apply to any items or services not currently taxed, including drugs for human use, newspapers, food, food stamps, clothing and shoes, electricity, oil, gas, and other fuels for residential use.

At the town’s Feb. 15 Selectboard meeting, board members discussed using the tax for the town’s share of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Long-Term Community Recovery (LTCR) projects not funded by other sources like grants or whose funding has been exhausted.

Wilmington engaged the LTCR program with the goal of rebuilding after Tropical Storm Irene.

The state manages the 1-percent option tax and would collect the funds along with the base retail, meal, or rooms taxes. The town’s net share is then returned, minus an administration fee of 30 percent. The town would receive the remaining 70 percent quarterly.

Selectboard Chair Thomas P. Consolino estimated that, based on previous revenues, Wilmington would have garnered $216,077 annually July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007 and $216,697 annually from Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2009.

Those figures were based on economic activity that predated the massive damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

According to statutes, the option tax revenues “may be expended for municipal services only, and not for education expenditures.”

Wilmington’s neighbor to the north, Dover, recently enacted the 1-percent option tax.

In Brattleboro, Selectboard Chair Dick DeGray has long championed the tax. According to estimates presented at a recent Brattleboro budget meeting, a 1-percent tax would have raised $663,797 in 2011.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #141 (Wednesday, February 29, 2012).

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