Bellows Falls village taxes up slightly

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BELLOWS FALLS — Property taxes will be going up slightly in the village of Bellows Falls.

The Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees approved a new tax rate Tuesday evening, and it's up just over a penny.

The tax rate will be 0.655 cents per $100 of evaluation. The vote was 4-0, with Trustee Gary Lique not attending the meeting.

Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison said the tax rate would actually have gone down but that voters approved a $30,000 special article for work on the village's fire and police facility. The station needs a new heating system as well as repairs to its foundation and chimney. Harrison said some work had already been done with a new paved entrance, and research was underway to determine what heating system would be best for the building.

The $30,000, which will pay for various repairs to the building, added just over a penny to the tax rate.

Village President Deborah Wright said while she wanted a decrease in the tax rate, she also wanted voters to have the choice of whether to spend the money on the building.

"I feel the decrease would have been terrific. I wanted the voters to choose whether or not to pay for repairs needed to the continued use of the public safety building," she said after the meeting.

Harrison said growth in the grand list of assessed properties was responsible for helping to keep taxes steady.

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The almost $9 million increase in the Rockingham grand list helped pave the way for a slight decrease in town taxes. That rate was set last week.

Harrison said people are investing in their homes in Bellows Falls, and that growth in the value of taxable property is helping to keep the overall tax rate down.

Voters in May approved a $1.7 million village budget, as well as the $30,000 for repairs and improvement to the fire and police facility.

According to statistics compiled by Harrison, the Bellows Falls village tax rate has grown from 0.55 cents in 2007, supporting a $1.3 million budget, to 0.655 cent tax rate in 2019, supporting a $1.7 million budget.

In 2015, the village budget was just under $2 million, and since then village trustees have cut spending, including eliminating most of the village's paid fire department, replacing it with one paid chief and on-call firefighters.

Harrison said the village still didn't have school tax rate information from the state to include with the village tax bills, so as a result residents will have slightly longer to pay their bills.

Municipal Finance Manager Shannon Burbela said the school tax rate looked to be "similar to last year" but that the official number hadn't been sent by state education officials.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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