Tax bills on the way to Panton property owners

PANTON — Many, but not necessarily all, Panton homeowners should see lower tax bills when they open the envelopes this week, according to town treasurer M’Lissa Dayton.
Because Panton has just completed a town-wide reappraisal and individual assessments have changed, Dayton said maybe not all taxpayers will see bills asking for lower payments, half of which are due on Nov. 1 and May 1, respectively. 
“They (the results) will vary, and you will be getting them shortly,” she said.
But overall, Dayton wrote in a Thursday email, Panton’s school tax obligation dropped by 6.6 percent from the 2011-12 school year to the 2012-2013 school year, from $1,338,690 to $1,255,528.
With less money to be collected, overall most taxpayers should pay less, Dayton said.
In an earlier interview, she had said she believed that would be the case, and in the email she wrote, “The above calculation substantiates my hunch.”
The reappraisal was completed earlier this year, but town officials said the new grand list could not be made final until after the grievance period. A number of residents signed on by April 1 to grieve their new assessments, according to Dayton, although none ultimately took the next step of pursuing their claims to the town’s board of civil authority.
That process slowed the town’s efforts to get out tax bills, and some Panton residents have been anxious about what their new bills might be. Town officials said some were concerned especially because almost all homes now have higher assessments  — the town’s grand list value rose almost 24 percent, from about $818,000 to around $1.01 million.
 While Panton finished its process, state officials waited for the results because they need up-to-date property evaluations to complete setting towns’ school tax rates, which are adjusted by towns’ Common Levels of Appraisals (CLAs).
State officials use CLAs in an attempt to make sure residents in all towns pay taxes based on the fair market value of their property, even if local property assessments are inaccurate. To determine CLAs, state officials look at towns’ real estate sales to determine how close towns’ grand lists come to fair market value. They then adjust school tax rates to reflect the difference between town assessments and market value.
Dayton said the entire process took time, and she finally got the new school tax rates via email this past Thursday.
“We hadn’t gotten any of the rates for the schools,” Dayton said.
The new rates are lower, due to the new, higher property assessments and to the fact the town owes less in taxes.
The full 2012-2013 town residential rate is $1.7101, including 52.51 cents for town roads and administration expenses and $1.185 for schools (which saw only modest increases in spending approved).
The 2011-2012 residential rate was higher, $2.2262, including 64.51 for town costs and $1.5811 for schools.
Even with the lower rate, many Panton homeowners will not pay the full list value of taxes on their homes. In 2010, the most recent year for which the state has published data, about 74 percent of Panton homeowners paid property taxes based on income sensitivity provisions in the state’s school financing law. Most of those homeowners received prebates.
Panton’s new rate for non-residential property is $1.8493, compared to $2.3853 this past year.
Panton became the last town within the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union to mail out tax bills.
Within ANwSU this year, property tax rates in Ferrisburgh and Addison dropped in part because of rising CLAs that reflected, according to state calculations, lower property values. When CLAs rise, tax rates drop; when CLAs drop, tax rates rise. If a CLA is near 100 percent, little adjustment is made.
The 2012-2013 Panton CLA is 104.21 percent after the reappraisal, according to city officials, a 33 percent increase from this past year’s pre-reappraisal figure of 78.21 percent.
Vergennes and Waltham each saw both a stable CLA and residential school tax rate.
Dayton said she is happy that Panton has joined the group with more accurate CLAs and property valuations.
“I’m glad we went through reappraisal,” Dayton said. “There’s not such a disparity … It feels nice to get all the values in line.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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