Middlebury residential tax rate up by 8.4 cents

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday approved a fiscal year 2015 municipal tax rate of 94 cents per $100 in property value, representing an almost 3-cent bump and a 3-percent increase from the current town rate of just over 91 cents.
When added to education property taxes computed by the state, Middlebury taxpayers will be assessed an overall fiscal year 2015 residential property tax rate of $2.717 per $100 of property value.
That rate is up 8.4 cents from the fiscal year 2014 rate of $2.633, an increase of about 3.2 percent.
The town will have a new, non-residential rate of $2.588, which is up 6.4 cents, an increase of about 2.5 percent.
Middlebury residents and businesses can pay their property taxes in three installments, with the first payment due on Aug. 15.
The new municipal rate covers the amount to be raised by taxes ($6,525,430) of the fiscal year 2015 budget of $9,153,360 that local voters approved this past month.
It also includes first-year interest payments on voter-approved bonding for the new town office building and recreation facility, the library roof replacement and insulation project, and the Main Street and Merchants Row rail overpass replacement projects. The new rate also reflects restoration of a penny (to a total of 2 cents) for the fire equipment fund.
Local officials had forecast a higher fiscal year 2015 municipal rate of almost 95 cents. But a larger-than-expected growth of 1.3 percent in the town’s grand list — the biggest jump in at least the past six years — helped drive down the municipal rate.
“The growth in the grand list is particularly notable as there was, once again, a significant reduction in the value of business personal property in FY15, the fifth year of the six-year phase-out of the business personal property tax,” Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay explained in a memo to the selectboard.
The Middlebury board also OK’d a fiscal year 2015 Downtown Improvement District Tax Rate of $.07 per $100 value for commercial properties within the district, unchanged from last year. This tax is paid by the owners of non-residential real estate in the core village area and is used to improve public assets in the downtown area.
In other action on Tuesday, the selectboard:
•Picked Waitsfield’s Thomas Engineering Associates (TEA) to oversee net-zero energy components of the new municipal building and recreation facility. Thomas Engineering was among five bidders for the contract and won with the lowest bid of $15,000.
•Agreed to receive a new request from Middle Road Ventures on the proposed discontinuance of the old Middle Road, a move that would allow for a new road to better serve an existing subdivision there. Based on feedback from state officials regarding potential environmental issues, MRV will resubmit a new road realignment plan.
•Reviewed a slate of traffic ordinance amendments — mostly minor updates, according to Ramsay. The board rejected, for the moment, a citizen suggestion that the speed limit on South Street Extension be raised from the current 25 miles per hour to 35 mph.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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