Halifax votes to leave merger

Annual Town Meeting will be held at the Halifax Elementary School Multipurpose Room.

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HALIFAX — A 1 percent local option tax on rooms being rented out is eyed as a small but new revenue source.

Select Board Chairman Lewis Sumner said a town with similar demographics in Vermont brought in about $8,600 each year via the tax.

“They’ve been talking about it for a while,” he said, referring to the board.

Board member Tristan Roberts, who also serves as state representative for the Windham-6 district, proposed the idea. Collecting the tax will not require additional work on behalf of the town.

Elmore is another town that opted only for the rooms tax, Roberts said.

“They found it a useful way to diversify the town’s revenue a little bit,” he said. “That was my intention in suggesting it. The tax burden is falling hard on our residents right now. This tax, if supported by the town, would just spread out the load a little bit, particularly with the rooms tax being charged to people who are visiting, who are utilizing our town and services, and hopefully want to contribute to everything we do with our town budget.”

Roberts said the Select Board looked at a 1 percent local option sales tax but felt the burden would fall more on residents.

“We really don’t want to raise taxes on residents,” he said. “No one wants to do that.”

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With fuel and other costs going up, Robert said the new revenue source would help with “small but important things” in town.

This will mark Sumner’s final annual Town Meeting as a board member. He’s been on the board for 54 years and isn’t seeking re-election.

“I think it’s time,” he said Sunday.

Halifax will host the annual meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Halifax Elementary School Multipurpose Room.

At an informational meeting last week, residents suggested the potential for adding funding to the approximately $1.25 million highway department budget proposed by the board to address road-related needs. Former board member Mitchell Greene said he believes another $100,000 more will be needed for paving.

Town Treasurer Patricia Dow is facing a challenge from Bob Teree. Dow, treasurer since 2005, outlined plans to work with another staff member on a system for reporting town finances in a way that would make it easier for residents to understand.

In recent years, Teree has been critical of the town’s accounting practices and transparency. He said he could make improvements in the office.

Voters will consider creating new reserve funds to begin saving money specifically for audits, roads, reappraisals, cemeteries, bridges and buildings.