Opinion: State offical corrects misstatement on Act 46 vote

Editor’s note: Voters in Orwell will go to the polls on Tuesday to vote with residents in the other Addison Rutland Supervisory Union towns on whether to approve a unified school district under the terms of Act 46.
It has been brought to our attention at the Agency of Education that at an April 4 meeting in Orwell, some misinformation about Act 46 incentives was inadvertently put out to the public. Act 46 is the education governance bill passed by the Legislature last year and provides incentives for specific types of mergers. Orwell is a part of one such merger discussion.
Act 46 does provide incentives to homestead taxpayers, regardless of whether they pay based on their income (income sensitivity) or on their property value. The new unified district will have both a property tax rate and an income rate. In both cases, those rates will be reduced by the incentives allowed by Act 46. And for both property and income taxpayers, if the appropriate rate for the town in the prior year is less than the incentive rate, then neither rate can increase by more than 5 percent of the prior year’s rate until the year the incentive rate is reached.
For the type of merger Orwell is considering, if the rates were higher in the prior year, then the taxpayers immediately drop to the appropriate incentive rate the first year, property or income. For other types of mergers, rates for taxpayers can decrease no more than 5 percent from the prior year until the year either of the merger rates are reached.
 Brad James
Education Finance Manager
Vermont Agency of Education

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