Addison Northwest school taxes falling

VERGENNES — According to estimates released by the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union office, school tax rates in the five district towns will all drop, with the decreases ranging from about 1 cent in Panton to roughly 16 cents in Waltham. This assumes passage of school budgets warned for consideration at town meetings.
The Vergennes Union High, Vergennes Union Elementary, Ferrisburgh Central and Addison Central school boards all proposed lower spending plans for March 1 balloting.
The ANwSU office also made major spending cuts, including eliminating one of two curriculum coordinator positions, that are reflected in the lower school budgets.
According to ANwSU business manager Kathleen Cannon, the following rates do not include municipal tax rates, which fund town offices and road work.
Cannon said her estimates have been adjusted for common levels of appraisal (CLAs), based on information available in December. Vergennes and Ferrisburgh have appealed their state-assessed CLAs; if successful, those appeals could result in a more favorable adjustment to school tax rates for those towns’ property values.
The ANwSU estimates for 2011-2012 call for a school tax rate of:
•  $1.2177 in VERGENNES, down almost 7 cents from $1.2863.
That amount would translate to a drop of about $140 in taxes for a $200,000 home.
•  $1.4779 in FERRISBURGH, down 3.6 cents from $1.5139.
That decrease would translate to a drop of $72 in taxes for a $200,000 home.
•  $1.438 in ADDISON, down about 12.1 cents from $1.5591. Cannon said a sharp drop in Addison’s per-pupil state spending penalty accounts for the amount of the decrease.
The drop would translate to a tax bill that would be about $240 lower for a $200,000 home.
•  $1.5675 in PANTON, down almost 1 cent from $1.5769.
Cannon said Panton’s CLA is low, about 78 percent of fair market value, according to the state. It therefore results in an upward adjustment to the town’s school tax rate and less savings than in other ANwSU towns, only about $20 on a $200,000 home.
•  $1.2823 in WALTHAM, down by a little more than 16 cents from $1.4429.
That decrease would translate to a tax bill drop of about $320 for the owner of a $200,000 home.
The tax bill decrease estimates assume that the homeowners are not already eligible for tax relief under Act 68. Homeowners who receive prebates will not realize the full amount of the tax decrease.
VUHS board members adopted an $8.8 million budget for Town Meeting Day approval that would drop spending from the current level by almost $94,000, or 1.06 percent.
The ACS board adopted a $1.71 million budget for voter approval that called for a 5.07 percent decrease.
Decreases are more modest at the other two schools.
The VUES board adopted a $3.89 million proposal that would lower spending by 0.10 percent.
The FCS board decided to ask for voter backing of what would be essentially a level-funded budget of just less than $3.05 million — but would still lower spending by $643.
ANwSU voters are also considering unification on Tuesday. Under Act 153, homeowners would receive up to an 8-cent tax break under the first year of one-board governance for their house and all contiguous acreage. That incentive would drop to 6 cents in a second year,  4 cents in a third, and 2 cents in a fourth before expiring.
Those tax breaks would not take effect until the 2012-2013 fiscal year, officials said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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