Brandon mulls a local option tax for road, bridge repairs

BRANDON — The Brandon selectboard is going to ask town residents to take the first step toward levying a 1 percent local tax that would fund repairs to local infrastructure.
Projections are that such a tax would raise roughly $130,000 a year for Brandon to spend solely on capital improvement projects, such as sidewalks, road and bridge repair, and vehicle maintenance and replacement.
Brandon attorney Jim Leary drafted language for a town charter change that would allow a local option tax, and the selectboard approved that language at its regular meeting Monday night.
If approved by voters and the Legislature, a new charter would enable the selectboard — with voter approval — to levy any or all of the following:
•  1 percent local tax on sales.
•  1 percent local tax on hotel rooms.
•  1 percent local tax on meals and alcoholic beverages.
Under the wording of the proposed charter change, the state would collect and administer the tax, and revenues received through the tax could only be used for financing of voter-approved capital projects within the town of Brandon.
The selectboard will forward the proposed charter change to Legislative Counsel Peter Griffin and Bristol State Reps. Steve Carr and Butch Shaw for review.
If approved, the board is hoping to hold two required public hearings prior to a special town meeting in June, where voters will be asked to approve the tax.
By law, a town charter is necessary for any Vermont town to bring the option tax question to voters. Once voters approve the option tax, the Legislature must also approve the measure before the tax can be levied. That likely wouldn’t happen until next year.
The Vermont Department of Taxation and Finance oversees collection of the option tax, where 30 percent would be paid to the state and 70 percent would go to the town on a quarterly basis. Revenues from the tax are to be used strictly for municipal purposes and not for education expenditures, according to state statute.
Other towns in Vermont that have 1 percent local option meals and alcoholic beverages taxes, and/or rooms taxes, including Middlebury, Rutland Town, Killington, Burlington, Brattleboro, Dover, Manchester, South Burlington, St. Albans Town, Stratton, Stowe, Williston and Winhall.

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