• Bill would expand residential tax break eligibility
    By Gordon Dritschilo
    Staff Writer | March 25,2013
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    Now that Rutland’s voters have authorized city government to make use of the state’s residential tax stabilization law, its legislators are working to make the law into something more useful.

    The city delegation has introduced a bill that would alter the statute to allow tax stabilization on homes designated as “blighted.”

    “It gives a chance to do what we are trying to do, which is give people a break for five years for improvements to their property,” Rep. Herb Russell, D-Rutland, said.

    The bill is before the House Ways and Means Committee, and Russell went before that committee last week to convince its members of the proposal’s merits. He said he was lucky to get the bill on the committee’s agenda.

    “Things are really tight and they’re up against the ropes right now in terms of making decisions on where money comes from,” he said.

    Busy schedule aside, Russell said the committee was “warm” and “very receptive” toward the bill and that he heard no negative comments, just “constructive technical questions.”

    “There were compliments to Rutland, kudos, for the city taking this action and trying to do something about blighted properties and improving neighborhoods,” he said. “They were receptive in a big way. ... I feel as though this will move. People really lit up and liked the idea.”

    The existing law says a municipality can vote to offer tax stabilization to low-income housing where improvements were at least partially funded by a “nonprofit, neighborhood or municipal housing improvement program.”

    The bill expands that eligibility to “principal dwelling units certified as blighted” by an independent review committee which must find that the home “exhibits objectively determinable signs of deterioration sufficient to constitute a threat to human health, safety, and public welfare.”

    The city hopes to use residential tax stabilization as a way to encourage home improvements as part of its neighborhood stabilization efforts.

    “My sense is, this is doing what we want it to do,” Mayor Christopher Louras said of the bill.

    gordon.dritschilo

    @rutlandherald.com
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