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Addison, Panton set tax rates

ADDISON/PANTON — Taxpayers in Addison and Panton, as expected, are receiving higher bills in 2014 than in 2013, but the increase in Panton is not as dramatic as Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials had projected.
Selectboards in both towns adopted municipal tax rates — levies to pay for town office and road spending — in July, Addison’s on July 1 and Panton’s on July 22.
Officials in all Vermont towns have received final homestead and non-residential school tax rates from the state, allowing them to make final their 2014-2015 tax bills once they set their town rates. 
Homeowners in Panton and Addison eligible for prebates under the income sensitivity provisions of the state’s education finance laws will eventually not be responsible for all of their new tax levies. According to Vermont Department of Taxes data more than 60 percent of property taxpayers in most towns typically receive prebates.
PANTON DETAILS
Panton’s residential rate ended up at $1.9948 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 9.12 cents from the 2013-2014 rate.
That 4.8-percent increase translates to about $91 in new taxes per $100,000 of assessed value.
Meanwhile Panton’s non-residential rate remained virtually unchanged: The town’s new rate for real estate that includes commercial property and second homes is $2.0299, compared to the previous non-residential rate of $2.0289.
Panton’s residential and non-residential rates both include the 53.66-cent town rate, a figure almost unchanged from the 2013-2014 town rate of 53.98 cents.
Panton’s school tax portion of the overall residential rate rose 9.44 cents, or almost 7 percent, to $1.4582. ANwSU officials had forecast a rate hike of about double that amount. 
Meanwhile, the school tax component of the non-residential rate rose by only 0.042 cents, an amount that was offset by the 0.032 decrease in the town portion of the rate.
ADDISON DETAILS
Addison’s new residential property tax rate rose more than Panton’s — an increase of 22.8 cents to $1.856.
That 14-percent rise translates to about $228 of new taxes per $100,000 of assessed value, again assuming homeowners are not eligible for prebates. 
Addison’s non-residential rate increased less, by 12.4 cents to $1.7901.
That 7.4-percent hike translates to $124 of additional taxes per $100,000 of assessed value.
Addison’s municipal rate rose by almost exactly 4 cents to $0.4249, and that amount is in both the residential and non-residential rates. Residents who pay their town taxes by Aug. 1 receive a 2 percent discount on that portion of their bill, but state law does not allow towns to discount school taxes.
The ANwSU estimate for Addison’s residential school tax rate was an increase of about 20.5 cents.
Instead, the town saw an increase of 18.81 cents to $1.4311, which represents a hike of about 15.3 percent.
Addison’s non-residential school tax rate rose by 8.42 cents, or about 6.6 percent, to $1.3652.
OTHER TOWNS
According to Waltham Town Clerk Mary Ann Castimore, that town’s selectboard will set its municipal rate next week, a move that will allow town officials to soon afterward prepare tax bills.
The Independent earlier reported Ferrisburgh and Vergennes tax rates. Ferrisburgh’s new residential rate is $1.7893, up by about 24 cents from the previous fiscal year rate of $1.5474.  
Of that residential rate, $0.2336 will pay for town services, while $1.5557 funds schools. Town officials noted the municipal portion of the rate is almost 2 cents lower than this past year.
Ferrisburgh’s new non-residential rate is $1.7187. That rate rose about 15 cents.
Vergennes saw a similar increase: The city’s new residential property tax rate stands at $2.1435, up 24.35 cents from the past year, or about 13 percent.
That translates to an increase of about $243 per $100,000 of assessed value.
 However, a greater portion of the city increase is due to municipal spending: Alderman approved about a 9-cent hike in the city rate, with most of that dedicated to funding the new Vergennes police station.
The Vergennes non-residential rate rose by almost 17 cents, or 8.4 percent, to $2.1835.
ANwSU spending, and within that particularly higher per-pupil spending, is pressuring district tax rates.
After an initial budget defeat, the Vergennes Union High School budget that eventually passed called for lower spending, but declining enrollment there means per-pupil costs remain high.
Addison Central School spending dropped, but Ferrisburgh Central and Vergennes Union Elementary school budgets rose.
Meanwhile, this winter the Legislature approved a higher statewide education tax rate and created spending penalties that drove local rates higher.
Still, although ANwSU rates rose this year, they are still far from the highest in Addison County: Middlebury’s residential rate rose by 8.4 cents to $2.7117 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, for example.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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