BELLOWS FALLS -- The Rockingham Selectboard and the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday to set the town and village property tax rates, leading to significant increases from the previous year.
The town’s property tax rate went up to 0.8625 while the village’s increased to 0.6417.
After Finance Director Chip Stearns addressed the boards to start the meeting, Selectboard member Peter Golec made a motion to set the town’s rate at 0.8625 per $100 of assessed property value. It is an increase from the rate of 0.7286 in Tax Year 2011. The main reason for the hike is the decrease in the Grand List -- the total assessed value of all taxable property as determined by an assessor -- from $4,753,119.18 to $4,063,697.
The motion was made to set the municipal tax rate and accept the educational tax rates of $1.3761 for homestead, $1.4064 for non-residential as provided by the Vermont Department of Taxes for Fiscal Year 2013.
"The town tax rate is pretty much what we thought it was going to be," Selectboard Chairman Tom MacPhee mentioned at the beginning of the meeting in the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre. "We were talking somewhere between a 12- to 14-cent increase. We’re coming in at 13.39 cents, which is 18.4 percent.
"But," he added, "it is what it is. The voters decided."
A total of $4,063,697 is to be raised by taxes via voter approval of Articles 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11
Following the Selectboard’s vote, the trustees began to discuss the tax rate for the village. Like the town, Bellows Falls’ property tax rate will go up due to a decrease in the Grand List. The rate, which was set at 0.6222 in 2011, was raised to 0.6417. The village’s Grand List fell from $2,659,822.53 to $2,646,187.98.
The amount expected to be raised by taxes is $1,697,934 due to Articles 4 and 5.
But first-year Trustee Andrew Smith wanted to make a comment before the vote. He said he had something to mention at the meeting as a way to inform members of the public watching on local access television.
"When an organization or a group requests a donation from the town of Rockingham as an article item at the annual meeting," he said, "and the same group then comes to the village looking for funding at the annual village meeting, they’re in effect double-dipping from the taxpayers and the village of Bellows Falls, who have already contributed through their Rockingham taxes."
After the meeting, Stearns spoke to reporters about the town’s tax rate.
"Next year’s rebate/prebate program is reflective of bills this year," Stearns said after the meeting adjourned. "So people who got a refund will get a greater refund next year -- because the property taxes have gone up. It’s a one-year delay in the rebate/prebate system in the state of Vermont. And you can only qualify for that if you’re declared a homestead.
"All of that comes into play in that next year people will some -- and in some cases all -- of their money back," he added.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.