Monkton residents get tax cut

MONKTON — In an effort to ease some of the financial burdens brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Monkton selectboard voted on July 13 to reduce the projected municipal tax rate by 4.89 cents, or about 11%, from 43.58 cents per $100 of assessed property value to 38.69 cents.
“We’re trying to minimize property tax impact during a national emergency,” selectboard chair Stephen Pilcher told the Independent during a phone interview last week.
The reduction amounts to a projected savings of $48.90 per $100,000 in property value. A typical property tax bill on a home valued at $270,000 would see a projected savings of $132.
Monkton’s final municipal tax rate, which accounts for about 20% of property tax bills, will be set by the selectboard in August, once the town’s grand list is finalized. The education tax rate, which accounts for the most of the bill, will be set by the state.
The town was able to cut taxes in part by reducing the paving budget.
“With the help of the Road Foreman, Ben Hollwedel, the selectboard decided to forego road paving projects for this year and instead patch the roads using a “‘hot box’ of hot asphalt,” town officials wrote in a July 20 announcement. “This one time change to the highway budget will result in a savings of $95,000.”
The board was able to tweak this line item from a budget that was passed by citizens on Town Meeting Day by taking advantage of Act 102, a pandemic-related emergency measure signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott on May 14. 
Act 102, which expires at the end of the year, authorizes municipal governments to:
•  reduce the municipal property tax rate.
•  ease or waive fees for late property tax payments.
•  change property tax due dates.
The town also intends to roll $30,000 in expenses related to the new Town Hall and Library project into the bond being used to pay for that project, bringing the total budget savings to $125,000.
In addition to cutting taxes, members of Monkton’s selectboard are thinking about eliminating the 8% penalty imposed on late tax payments, Pilcher said:
“We collect about $12,000 to $15,000 a year in late fees, but this affects those who are least able to pay.”
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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