Ripton, college negotiating new pact
RIPTON — Ripton officials and Middlebury College leaders are negotiating a new agreement through which the institution would continue to make annual payments to the community in recognition of its non-taxable property.
It was on Feb. 25, 1994, that the Ripton selectboard and David Ginevan, then treasurer of the college, signed an initial agreement that resolved a pending town-gown property tax dispute and set up a series of annual payments — also termed in the document as “gifts in lieu of taxes.”
The initial 10-year term of the agreement spanned 1994 to 2003. It automatically renewed for a series of one-year increments from 2004 to 2013.
“In no event shall the renewal period for this agreement extend beyond tax year 2013, although the parties may, by written agreement, enter into subsequent agreements concerning the subject matters set forth herein,” the document states.
The agreement does not apply to property for which the college is already paying property taxes. Ripton real estate records show the college currently owns 979.1 acres of property that is exempt from property taxes because it relates directly to the institution’s educational mission. Those exempt properties include the Bread Loaf campus off Route 125, and the Battell Park land along the Middlebury River, north of Route 125.
Middlebury College owns an additional 1,174.47 acres of land in Ripton that are subject to local property taxes. That land includes a 614.3-acre parcel off Wagon Wheel Road and the 173-acre Homer Noble Farm.
The expiring agreement features three main components:
• Assurances that the college will continue to pay conventional property taxes on 13 properties the institution and town agree are taxable.
• An annual gift in lieu of taxes — in-kind or in cash — of up to $16,000 from the college to the town.
• An annual gift in lieu of taxes that has gradually increased during each year of the pact.
Municipal records show the college paid the town of Ripton $62,800 in 1994, the first year of the agreement; $72,564 in the year 2000; $80,473 in 2004; $92,275 in 2009; and $113,337 in 2013, the final year of the deal.
Money received from the college is being used to help reduce the financial burden of Ripton property taxpayers.
Recent Ripton selectboard minutes show that town officials have been meeting in executive session to discuss a “contract” with Middlebury College. Ripton Selectwoman Laurie Cox confirmed the two sides have been discussing the next iteration of a gift in lieu of taxes agreement. College and town officials first sat down this past January to talk about a new deal, according to Cox. Negotiations between the two sides will remain private until an accord is reached.
Middlebury College also has a gift-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the town of Middlebury. That arrangement, forged in 1994 and re-established in 2004, is set to run through 2024, unless either the town or college seek to invalidate it. The gift in lieu of taxes has been determined since 2004 by an agreed-upon formula based on a three-year average of college endowment earnings. The college also contributes annually to Middlebury Regional EMS and local public safety services, in addition to $600,0000 in yearly debt service for the Cross Street Bridge project (since fiscal year 2011). All told, the college’s financial payments to the town of Middlebury amounted to $161,630 in fiscal year 2004; $270,439 in fiscal year 2008; and $864,500 in fiscal year 2013, a figure that includes Cross Street Bridge project assistance.
Middlebury College is currently the town’s largest property taxpayer. It paid a bill of $678,652 in fiscal year 2011 on its non-exempt holdings.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)
BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)
See when your favorite high school team is competing in the fall sports playoffs.