Taxes dropping in ANwSU towns

VERGENNES — Property owners in Ferrisburgh, Vergennes and Addison will see their property tax bills go down this year, thanks largely due to lower school rates.
Homeowners are due to get bills with decreases ranging from about 4.7 cents in Ferrisburgh to 9.1 cents in Addison. Non-residential taxpayers in those three communities are also looking at lower tax bills, with decreases ranging from 1.5 cents in Vergennes to 6.3 cents in Addison.
The release at the end of June of 2011-2012 school tax rates brought good news to homeowners in four of five Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns and confirmed earlier ANwSU estimates of those rates as accurate.
Panton selectmen, according to Town Clerk Sue Torrey, will probably set that town’s full tax rate on July 26. Panton is the exception to the ANwSU school rate rule, with the face value of the residential school rate rising by about four-tenths of a cent, and the non-residential school rate rising by roughly 7 cents.
Waltham’s residential school tax rate dropped dramatically, by almost 15 cents, but its non-residential rate rose by about 6.4 cents. Non-residential property includes commercial ventures, rental units and second homes.
Homeowners who are eligible for property tax relief — and well more than half of ANwSU households have been in recent years — may not see the full benefit of the lower rates, just as they do not bear the full weight of tax increases.
Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley said lower per-pupil spending lay behind the declining school taxes, and he credited school officials for responsible budgeting.
“It appears to me the school administrators and the school boards were very careful with their budgets to accomplish that,” Hawley said.
Once Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) adjustments are factored in — those are made to account for how accurately different towns assess their property — the ANwSU estimates released in January proved to be on the mark.
For example, ANwSU’s Ferrisburgh residential estimate translated to $1.478 after the CLA calculation, and the final number came in at $1.4844.
“I think they’re pretty close,” said ANwSU business manager Kathleen Cannon.
Aldermen adopted the city’s tax rate of 60.07 cents in June. Then the school numbers confirmed an additional 0.24 cents to pay for tax breaks to veterans and two nonprofit property owners.
The final result was a rate to pay for municipal services of 60.31 cents, down from 60.32 cents from 2010-2011.
The new school residential rate is $1.2263, exactly 6 cents lower than a year ago.
Combined, the city’s new residential tax rate is thus $1.8294, 6.01 cents lower than last year.
That decrease translates to a little more than $120 of tax savings for the owners of a $200,000 home.
The city’s new non-residential rate is $1.9491, down 1.5 cents from 2010-2011. That translates to $15 less in taxes for every $100,000 of assessed commercial value.
With the state school tax rate information in hand, Ferrisburgh selectmen adopted overall town tax rates on July 5. The new residential rate is $1.7334, down 4.7 cents from the past year, while the non-residential rate is $1.539, down 2.67 cents.
Of that decrease in the residential rate, almost 3 cents is due to the drop in the school tax rate, and the balance is due to a fall in the municipal tax rate that approaches 2 cents.
The overall drop in the residential rate translates to a tax bill that will be $94 lower for a home assessed at $200,000, again assuming the bill has not already been lowered by state property tax relief.
Owners of non-residential property will save almost $27 per $100,000 of assessed value compared to the previous tax year.
Addison taxpayers are seeing a larger drop in their school tax rate. The Addison Central School board made an effort to lower the budget enough to avoid most of a state-imposed tax penalty for high per-pupil spending, and the residential school tax rate is falling by 11.5 cents to $1.444.
On July 5, Addison selectmen set the overall residential town tax rate at $1.8084, a decrease of 9.1 cents from this past year. The town portion of the rate is up slightly.
The decrease translates to a residential tax bill that will be $182 lower for a $200,000 home, assuming no tax relief is already lowering that bill.
Addison’s non-residential rate this past year was already lower than its residential rate, but it dropped further still, by 6.3 cents to $1.7450.
That decrease translates to $63 less in taxes per $100,000 of assessment for Addison’s commercial taxpayers.
As far as the school portion of property taxes goes, Panton’s homeowners will see little change: The residential rate went from $1.5769 to $1.5811.
Non-residential property owners in Panton will take a bit of a hit, however: Their school rate is rising from $1.6704 to $1.7402, meaning about a $70 tax increase per $100,000 of value.
Finally, Waltham is seeing a dramatic drop in its residential rate for school taxes, by 14.94 cents to $1.2935.
Owners of $200,000 homes who are not already benefiting from rebates will get bills that are almost $300 lower.
Owners of commercial property in Waltham are looking at roughly the same increase as in Panton, however, one of about 6.4 cents to $1.5851. That will equal another $64 in taxes per $100,000 of non-residential property.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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