Proposed School Budgets Push Property Taxes Up

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 02/26 2014 06:32PM

Updated 03/04 2014 04:22PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Town meeting day is now just days away. For many of you school budgets will be a big deal.
This year many towns will be hit with a proposal that could significantly increase your property taxes.
But just how much really depends on what school budgets are passed on Tuesday.

Numbers, decimals, and a lot of percent’s can seem like a headache. But the break down is much simpler than it seems.

The first step, each town votes on a school budget on Town Meeting Day.
Then the state calculates how much money must be raised to meet the needs of all the state's schools.
That's divided per student in each town. That amount is otherwise known as per pupil spending, which then determines how much you pay in property taxes. So basically, how much your school spends per pupil, determines how much you pay in property taxes. The more your local school spends-the more you owe.
And just because a school budget doesn't rise significantly taxes could still go up -even if the number of students goes down.

“This year more than ever there are several other things at play, which mean that even if a town votes no increase in their school budget, their taxes will go up,” said Steve Dale, the Executive Director of the Vermont School Board Association.

Dale says there are three main factors that are increasing property taxes this year.
Last year there was a 19 million dollar education fund surplus, one-time money that helped keep taxes from going up significantly. The state doesn't have that money this year and Dale says money from things like lottery and sales tax is down too.

“The third major sort of external variable is that property values, the way we calculate property values, they are still down a little bit from where they were before,” said Dale.

To meet demands in education spending, state leaders are proposing a 7-cent increase in the Homestead Tax Rate.
Factoring in that 7-cents many towns face a significant increase on their property tax bill.
Some of the highest proposed property tax increases are in Chittenden County:
Underhill- 15%
St. George- 14.5%
Underhill ID/Jericho- 13.7%
Huntington - 12%
Richmond -11.75%

“I would be surprised if there were wild fluctuations from what has been anticipated,” said Dale.

Dale says no matter which way you vote on your school's budget on Tuesday, your property taxes will go up.

Law makers plan to determine what the Homestead Tax Rate will be after Town Meeting Day.

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