Rockingham town taxes decrease

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BELLOWS FALLS — Town taxes are going down — slightly — in Rockingham.

The Rockingham Select Board Tuesday night approved the town portion of the combined tax rate for fiscal year 2020 and thanks to a 2 percent increase, roughly $9 million, in the grand list, taxes will go down about half a penny, or 0.065.

"It's the first time in at least 12 years" that the tax rate has gone down, said Town Manager Wendy Harrison, who marked her first anniversary as town manager on Tuesday.

The new rate to pay for town services is $1.077 per $100 of evaluation. Last year's rate was $1.084. Harrison made the announcement Tuesday evening and the Select Board quickly gave its formal stamp of approval.

Harrison noted that the school portion of the tax rate had not been set by the state yet, and she said she didn't know if that will be going up. The school portion of the combined Rockingham rate is more than half of the overall tax burden.

Harrison said a big portion of the growth in the grand list of taxable property was due to the addition and expansion at Chroma Technology, which is located in the Rockingham Industrial Park. She said Chroma was "a big part" of the increase, but that the company, which is employee-owned, had chosen to pay its taxes earlier. But she said there was good growth in the single-family residential portion of the grand list as well. And, she noted, two solar fields had also gone online, giving a $700,000 boost to the grand list. Other investments included a new substation owned by Green Mountain Power and expansion at Applied Bolting, she said.

"It shows the value of economic development," she said.

Overall, there was an $8.9 million growth in property value, she said. The town tax rate has seen substantial increases in the past 10 years. In the 2009 fiscal year, the tax rate was 68 cents to support $3 million in spending, with a big 14-cent jump from 2011 to 2012, according to statistics released by Harrison's office. The new tax rate will raise $5,035,306 to fund town expenses approved at Town Meeting.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.

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