State releases ANwSU tax rates

VERGENNES — Homestead Education Tax rates delayed by multiple Vergennes Union High School votes finally arrived in the five Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns on Friday morning, and they ranged from 2.69 to 3.44 cents higher than had been estimated by ANwSU officials.
Residential school tax rates will be rising by between 9.29 and 9.48 cents in Addison, Panton and Vergennes.
ANwSU estimates had called for increases of 6.0 to 6.6 cents in those communities.
Waltham’s rate is rising by about 5.6 cents, not by the 2.5 cents projected by ANwSU, while Ferrisburgh’s rate rose by 7.57 cents, not the projected 4.88 cents.
ANwSU business manager Tonia Mears said the ANwSU estimates did not include tuition for district students who attend the Hannaford Career Center, but rather were intended to measure the tax impact of the four ANwSU budgets.
“The tax calculation sheet did not include the vocational tuition because it is voted on separately,” Mears said.
Taxes in Addison, Panton and Vergennes are expected to increase between roughly $186 and $190 for the owners of a $200,000 home.
 In Waltham the new rate will add $112 to the bill of a $200,000 home, and in Ferrisburgh the new rate will add about $151 to a home valued at $200,000.
All those calculations assume the homeowners do not qualify for income sensitivity provisions of Vermont’s education financing law.
According to state data, 6,918 Addison County residents received adjustments in 2014 to their property tax bills that averaged $1,556. Typically, about two-thirds of homeowners in most towns pay based on their incomes, not on their homes’ values.
The Vermont Departments of Taxes and Education had waited to calculate and send rates to ANwSU towns until 30 days after the third vote on a proposed VUHS budget. A VUHS budget passed on June 9, and could have been petitioned during the following month.
Clerks in Ferrisburgh, Addison and Vergennes on Friday were starting the process of getting delayed bills in the mail.
Waltham and Panton tax bills typically do not go out until August and are not due until November, and clerks in those towns said the delay had not posed a problem.
The new residential rate in Vergennes is $1.5084, up from $1.4155.
That 9.29-cent difference equals about a 7.1 percent increase.
The delay in receiving tax information from state officials also delayed the mailing of Vergennes sewer bills a few days. City Clerk Joan Devine said Vergennes saves $436 a year by jointly mailing its annual tax bills with a quarterly sewer bill.
“Our bills should have gone out yesterday,” Devine said on Thursday.
She said she planned to talk to the city council about extending the grace period that follows the Aug. 15 due date for the first of four annual tax payments.
“You can’t throw a bill at people and say you’ve got to pay in two weeks,” Devine said.
The 2015-2016 non-residential rate for Vergennes is $1.4699, up by just 1.44 cents from the past fiscal year.
In Addison, officials were also scurrying to get bills out. Town Clerk Marilla Webb said the town usually mails bills between July 7 and 10 and offers a 2 percent discount on the municipal portion of the bill to those who pay in full by Aug. 1. The due date for the bill is Nov. 1.
Webb said the selectboard was set to meet in the afternoon on Friday (after the deadline for this edition of the Independent) to set the overall tax rate. She said she spoke to Selectboard Chairman Jeff Kauffman that morning about extending the Aug. 1 discount deadline “to give the same number of days we normally give them,” and that Kauffman believed selectmen would act on that suggestion.
Webb was personally relieved the rates were not delayed longer: Her son and daughter-in-law in New Hampshire are expecting her first grandchild, with a July 24 due date.
“I’m ready to get those (bills) out,” Webb said, adding, “I feel a little better.”
Addison’s new residential school tax rate is $1.5259, up from $1.4311.
That 9.48-cent difference equals about a 6.6 percent increase.
Addison’s non-residential rate rose less, from $1.3652 to $1.3952.
The arrival of the rates in Ferrisburgh should allow business as usual, according to Assistant Town Clerk Pam Cousino. Ferrisburgh sends out one bill for the year before the end of July, with the first installment due on Sept. 1. Cousino said if the rates had not arrived before the end of this week, the town might have had to call a special selectboard meeting to set the overall rate.
Ferrisburgh’s new residential school tax rate is $1.6327, up from $1.5570.
That 7.57-cent difference equals about a 6.4 percent increase.
As is the case in the other ANwSU towns where the non-residential rate is known, the increase is modest: Ferrisburgh’s non-resident rate rose from $1.4851 to $1.4946.
Both Waltham Town Clerk Mary Ann Castimore and Panton Town Clerk Jean Miller said the delay had not hurt their town’s mailing schedules. Payments in each are not due until Nov. 1, leaving plenty of leeway for bills to go out.
“It’s not a crisis for us yet,” Miller said on Thursday, before the rates were released. “We’re still OK.”
Panton’s new residential school tax rate is $1.5587, up from $1.4582.
That 9.36-cent difference equals about a 6.4 percent increase.
Waltham’s new residential school tax rate is $1.6574, up from $1.6011.
That 5.63-cent difference equals about a 3.5 percent increase.
Panton and Waltham’s non-residential rates were not available as of Friday morning.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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