ANWSD faces bigger tax jump than expected

VERGENNES — After months of contentious public conversations about how to solve the increasingly dire problems of decreasing enrollment and increasing education costs, the Addison Northwest School District made the difficult decision to close one of its elementary schools next year. Then, in an effort to preserve programming while keeping tax increases to a minimum, the board crafted a $21,842,595 fiscal year 2021 budget that involved spending less money next year than was spent this year.
With that decision in hand, the district printed its 2019–20 annual report.
As the report went to press, district officials believed the ANWSD had 954.44 equalized pupils and that district residents would be facing an estimated increase of 3.78-cent in the overall union tax rate (before individual town CLAs were figured in).
But last week some new numbers came in from the state. Not good ones.
It turns out that, according to state Education officials, ANWSD now has only 948.52 equalized pupils.
This means the state will provide the district with less funding than the district was expecting and taxes are going up more than was previously estimated.
If current numbers stand, the overall union tax rate will increase by 5.45 cents per $100 of property value.
ANWSD voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, March 3, to consider the district’s proposed budget.
“I would like to stress that this update is due to information the state received from other Vermont school districts, not any changes within ANWSD,” said ANWSD board chair Sue Rakowski in an email to the Independent.
The update, she acknowledged, is “not good news for our district.”
The equalized pupil number could still change, she added. So could several other numbers that are used to calculate the tax rate.
And where educational property taxes are concerned, Rakowski pointed out that “68% of Vermont homeowners are eligible for the state’s income sensitivity program, which provides ‘prebates’ to eligible taxpayers to ensure education property taxes are capped at approximately 2.5% of their income.”
It’s possible that the Legislature could make some changes that would help ANWSD taxpayers, said ANWSD Director of Finance and Operations Elizabeth Jennings, “but there is no guarantee of that, and the likelihood is that the change would be slight.”
For more state tax facts, head online to
For more information regarding the new numbers and how they will affect the district’s proposed FY 2021 budget, contact Elizabeth Jennings at the ANWSD office.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]

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