WILMINGTON -- The Selectboard set the fiscal year 2015 tax rate, which was reduced by 3.5 cents.
"This reduction should help the taxpayers of Wilmington but probably represents a one year only opportunity," said Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy. "Unfortunately, as every Vermont taxpayer knows, the bulk of their tax bill is made up of the state payment to the education tax, which more than offsets the reduction in the town rate. Until this changes, Wilmington taxpayers and all taxpayers in Vermont will see continued increases in their property tax bills."
The drop, he says, can be attributed to the sale of Haystack lots to the Hermitage Club, a surplus from the fiscal year 2013 budget and the growth of the grand list, which increased from 6,541 to 6,627 properties. The combination of the sale and the surplus was stated to be $590,000.
Before her term expired, former Selectboard member Meg Streeter mentioned the importance of the lot sales at Town Meeting, where she pointed out there were 600 properties acquired by the town in 2006 that were in "a mostly undeveloped lot known as the Haystack development or village."
"We feel fortunate to return those to the tax base," she said.
In the 2014 town report, the estimated rate was $0.4486. The final rate came out to be $0.4887 after being approved by the Selectboard on July 2. That increase was the result of two items receiving an increase in funding.
Residents voted on the floor of Town Meeting in support of additional funding for the Memorial Hall line item and the highway town road equipment capital fund. Memorial Hall Board Chairman Alan Greenspan proposed an amendment, requesting voters approve $6,000 instead of the $1,500 that appeared in the town report. Voters also approved to raise $225,000 for the highway town road equipment capital fund rather than the proposed $150,000.
This was the first time that a budget committee was not appointed and assigned the task of guiding voters on Town Meeting Day. Last year, Vermont League of Cities and Towns informed the town it was no longer part of state statute. However, there was a citizen review group that made comments and asked questions during budget sessions where the Selectboard went through the budget line item by line item. In past years, the committee would go through the budget only after it was approved by the board.
"They really enjoyed the process this year," Murphy said of the Selectboard.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.