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Voters to weigh in on 1 percent option tax

Non-binding vote set for March 4, but Representative Town Meeting will have the final say

BRATTLEBORO—The Brattleboro Selectboard has placed the 1 percent local option tax on two ballots.

At the board’s Jan. 21 meeting, the members approved placing the tax question to a town-wide vote on the March 4 Australian ballot. This non-binding advisory vote would essentially serve as a straw poll.

The local option tax monies would help defray property taxes and fund renovations to the police and fire stations.

The board also approved placing the option tax on an Australian ballot before Town Meeting Members at the Representative Town Meeting, later that same month.

“Property taxes are very high in town and this is the only other option,” said Chair David Gartenstein.

A 1 percent local option tax is one of three sales taxes the state allows towns to levy. Brattleboro already levies the rooms and meals and alcohol taxes.

According to Finance Director John O’Connor, based on recent sales, the 1 percent option tax would have raised $660,000 for the town. This amount represents the 67.5 percent of the revenue it would receive after the state takes its 30 percent handling fee plus about $5 for every tax return filed.

Referring to past board Chair Dick DeGray’s crusade to enact a 1 percent local option tax, board member John Allen said, “If Dick DeGray is watching, he’s laughing."

According to the Department of Taxes, 11 towns have the 1 percent sales tax. In Windham County, Dover and Wilmington have enacted the tax.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #238 (Wednesday, January 22, 2014). This story appeared on page A5.

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