Legislators want to expand local option tax across Vermont
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 18,2013
BENNINGTON — The county’s two state senators say they are working on a bill that would allow every municipality in the state the chance to add a 1 percent tax to retail sales, meals and alcohol or hotel rooms.
Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, said he had supported the local option tax when it was created in response to the state’s education formula in 1999 and he thought it should be available to towns like Bennington.
“Now it’s been almost 15 years and it’s time, in my mind, to expand the ability to have the local option tax to all communities. The reason I say that is a town like Bennington, which has to provide the infrastructure for the surrounding towns, including New York state, has expenses that some of the smaller towns don’t have. This would help defray some of those costs and also lower tax rates,” he said.
Sears’ colleague, Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington, said he supported expanding the tax opportunity throughout Vermont as well.
The local option tax was created for towns like Manchester which were considered “sending towns,” or “gold towns,” under Act 60. Manchester was one of a number of towns that was sending more in property tax to the state than it was getting back from the state for its own school.
The local option tax was intended to help recover some of that money in the hope that it would be used for property tax relief. The 1 percent tax can be applied to retail sales, hotel rooms or the meals and alcohol sold at restaurants.
It can be applied to all three categories or any combination of them.
Burlington and Rutland collect similar taxes on meals, entertainment and lodging because that authority has been written into their city charters. Among the towns that take advantage of the state program are Bratttleboro, Rutland Town and the ski resort towns of Killington, Stowe and Stratton.
Last month, the Select Board in Bennington, at the request of Town Manager Stuart Hurd, acted by consensus to show their support for allowing other towns to enact the tax.
For the complete story, see Tuesday's Rutland Herald.