Ferrisburgh taxpayers see rates decrease

FERRISBURGH — Despite at least modest increases in town spending and in the Ferrisburgh Central School and Vergennes Union High School budgets, Ferrisburgh’s 2012-2013 property tax rates dropped from this past year.
Ferrisburgh’s new residential rate stands at $1.6276 per $100 of assed value — 10.58 cents lower than the 2011-2012 rate.
That decrease translates to a tax bill that is about $200 lower for a Ferrisburgh home assessed at $200,000, assuming its owners are not eligible for property tax relief.
In the 2010 tax year, the most recent for which the Vermont Department of Taxes has data published on its website, almost two-thirds of Ferrisburgh households received property tax prebates. Households that receive tax relief will pay less in taxes in 2012, but might not realize the full amount of savings from the lower rate because they are also not paying the full amount of their bills.
The town’s new non-residential rate is $1.6675, 8.74 cents less than the 2011-2012 rate.
That decrease means Ferrisburgh’s non-residential and commercial property owners, including owners of second homes along Lake Champlain, will see a drop of about $87 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Selectmen in the county’s third-largest town made final its municipal tax rate on July 26 after waiting for audited numbers, according to meeting minutes posted online at the town website. The portion of the tax rate that pays for town government and roads stands at 27.44 cents, up 2.58 cents from a year ago.
The lower overall rates are due to drops in the town’s school tax rates that came despite approved increases of 2.8 percent in elementary school spending and almost 2 percent in VUHS spending.
The town’s residential school rate dropped by roughly 13 cents to $1.3532, while the non-residential rate fell by about 11 cents to $1.39.31.
Town Clerk Chet Hawkins said the central reason for the decreases was a rise in the town’s Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) from roughly 93 to about 99 percent. When a town’s CLA rises, it has the effect of lowering tax rates.
State officials use CLAs in an attempt to make sure taxpayers in all towns pay taxes based on the fair market value of their property even if local property assessments are inaccurate or out of date.
To determine CLAs, state officials look at towns’ real estate sales to determine how close towns’ grand lists of real estate value are to fair market value. According to those figures, Ferrisburgh’s assessments were under fair market value a year ago, but are now more accurate.
Hawkins said regardless of how the computations work, the bottom line is not hard to understand.
“Our tax rate is down. We’re smiling,” he said.
Ferrisburgh’s property tax bills were mailed out last week, and the first of four quarterly installments is due on Sept. 1.  
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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