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Local option tax receipts continue to grow

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s local option tax continues to exceed revenue expectations, leaving town officials confident the 1-percent levy on rooms, meals, sales and alcohol will generate more than adequate dollars to pay down the community’s share of the new Cross Street Bridge.
Middlebury residents in 2008 agreed to institute the local option taxes to raise the $650,000 annually that has been budgeted during the 30 years to cover debt service (interest and principal) on the town’s $7 million bill for the Cross Street Bridge. Middlebury College has agreed to give the town the remaining $9 million to cover the $16 million project.
Officials were initially concerned that the local option taxes might fall short of meeting the annual $650,000 threshold, as the levy took effect as the national economy was headed into recession.
But new numbers provided by the Middlebury town offices show the local option tax revenues have been in a steady, upward trajectory.
Figures for the first quarter (January through March) of 2012 show a yield of $162,033, up from the $154,683 raised during the same period last year. Books will soon close on the second quarter, and officials are optimistic for healthy returns.
The first three full calendar years of local option taxes have yielded $652,083 (in 2009), $702,910 (in 2010), and $731,499 in 2011.
Typically, the third quarter of each calendar year (July through September) has produced the highest local option tax revenues.
Middlebury Assistant Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay said any surplus local option tax revenues are kept in the Cross Street Bridge fund for future maintenance and related expenses. Plans call for the bridge project to be closed out next month, Ramsay said, meaning the exact final cost (including any possible overruns) will be known.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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