ANeSU towns set 2011-2012 tax rates

ADDISON COUNTY — Selectboards in Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro have set 2011-2012 property tax rates that range from a 0.17-cent decrease in Starksboro to a 10.18-cent increase in New Haven.
These property tax rates stem from spending levels previously agreed on by residents at Town Meeting Day for municipal and school services for the current July to June fiscal year.
In the wake of those approvals, factors like common levels of appraisal (CLAs) — how close the towns’ property assessments are to fair market value, according to state calculations — and declining enrollment in schools have reared their heads to boost rates in some towns.
The town of Monkton set its tax rates last week. The homestead rate this year is $2.1224, which marks a 7.5-cent or 3.66 percent increase from last year’s rate.
That increase translates to an additional $150 on a home assessed at $200,000, assuming its owners are not eligible for a school tax rebate.
The non-residential rate is $2.1416, which is a 0.17-cent or 0.08 percent increase.
That increase means an additional $17 in taxes for every $100,000 of commercial property value.
While the homestead education rate jumped 3.2 percent to 1.6806, the non-residential rate dropped 1.2 percent to 1.6998.
The number of students enrolled at Monkton Central School has gone down, explained town treasurer Charles Roumas. Although the school budget remained flat, he said, because there were fewer pupils the spending per pupil increased by about $330, which increased the homestead education tax rate.
“The average spent per pupil has a direct impact on the homestead education rate,” said Roumas. “So in Monkton’s case, because the average spent per pupil has increased, our homestead education rate went up over five cents.”
Additionally, Monkton’s CLA — pegged at 80 percent — increased the education rate. The common level of appraisal is a ratio used to adjust the assessed values of properties so that they jibe with their fair market value for taxes. The idea is that if a property is assessed at 80 percent its current value, its owner will still have to pay 100 percent of the property value in taxes.
The municipal rate also rose, jumping up 5.5 percent to 44.18 cents.
Roumas said although the rate increased from this past year, historically it has not. He noted that the municipal tax rate in both 2008 and 2009 stood at 50.88 cents, and then in 2010 it dropped to .4186 before climbing again this year.
Roumas pointed out the rate remains almost seven cents lower than it was two years ago. Driving spending up this year was the voters’ decision to put $20,000 more into the highway equipment fund.  
The New Haven selectboard recently set the residential rate at $2.4316  — a jump of 10.18 cents or 4.35 percent from last year.
That increase translates to about $203 more in taxes on a home assessed at $200,000, assuming its owners are not eligible for a school tax rebate.
The non-residential rate was set at $2.4253 and reflects a smaller increase of 1.94 cents or 0.8 percent from last year. Owners of commercial property will be paying an additional amount of about $19 per $100,000 of assessed value.
While the homestead education rate increased 2.8 percent to $1.877, the non-residential education rate dropped 1.6 percent to $1.8707.
The municipal rate grew 9 percent from last year to 55.46 cents.
“What do you know that doesn’t go up?” said town treasurer Barb Torian as she explained the increase in municipal taxes. “Insurance goes up, cost of fuel goes up … it just costs more to operate and maintain equipment.”
She also noted that the increased municipal rate reflects a loan that the town took out to purchase a piece of land next to the new town offices.
Starksboro property taxes are down from last year. The selectboard recently set a new homestead property tax rate of $1.8936, which is a 0.17-cent or 0.08 percent decrease from last year. 
The non-residential rate was set at $1.9534, down 0.15 of a cent or 0.076 percent from fiscal year 2011.
Owners of homes and commercial property will see drops of a few dollars on their tax bills.
The main reason behind this decrease in taxes, said town officials, is that the town has paid off its debt for the 2004-2005 town hall renovations and for various pieces of equipment.
Veterans that have been accepted for a special tax break are exempt from paying $40,000 worth of property value. So 0.40 cent is being added to both homestead and non-residential property tax rates to compensate for this exemption.
 The municipal rate for both homestead and non-residential taxpayers is 43.77 cents. The education rate for homestead owners is $1.4555 and the rate for non-residential taxpayers is $1.5153.
The Lincoln homestead property tax rate for the 2012 fiscal year is $1.9024, and the non-residential rate is $1.8822.
Due to the change in tax periods (the town switched from a calendar year timeline to a summer fiscal year where the period begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following year) the municipal rates and overall tax rates from last year cannot be directly compared. As the town shifted to the new fiscal year timeline, the previous budget was pegged to an 18-month timeline.
The one element of last year’s budget that is comparable is the education rate.
This year’s homestead education rate is $1.3775, which marks a 3.15-cent or 2.3 percent increase from last year. The non-residential education rate is $1.3573, which is a 4.06-cent or 2.9 percent decrease from last year.
The municipal rate for this fiscal year is 52.49 cents.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].   

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