Vermonters bracing for a hike in tax rates due to a low homestead property yield are getting some relief.
Projections at the end of last year that the yield would drop from $10,998 to $10,763 have since been revised. Last month, the House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill setting the yield at $11,385 — $385 higher than last year and $622 higher than initially projected. A higher yield translates to a lower tax rate.
While spending requests for most school districts have not changed, the more favorable yield projection has prompted some to revise their tax rate estimates ahead of Town Meeting Day.
School districts in the Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union are all presenting relatively flat budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
GRCSU includes Quarry Valley Unified Union School District, Wells Springs School District, Ira School District and Rutland Town School District
In Quarry Valley — which serves the towns of West Rutland, Proctor and Poultney — the proposed expenditure budget is $18,420,200, up 1.51% from the current year. Education spending is down 0.12%. Education spending per equalized pupil is $16,529, a decrease of 1.07%, placing it below the projected state average of $17,612.
In Wells Springs — which serves the towns of Wells and Middletown Springs — the proposed budget is $5,097,893, down 0.02% from the current year. Education spending per equalized pupil is projected to be $17,743, a 3.1% decrease.
In Ira, the proposed budget is $673,941. Education spending per equalized pupil is slated to be $15,840, a 2.7% increase. The town, which has no schools of its own, allows its K-12 student residents full school choice to any public or approved independent school in or out of state.
In Rutland Town, the proposed budget is $8,611,782, up 2.2% from the current year. The application of a surplus of $186,458 will hold education spending to a 1.26% increase. Education spending per equalized pupil is calculated to be $16,730, up 0.74%.
According to Louis Milazzo, business manager for the GRCSU, the supervisory union is using the original yield.
“However, we are letting tax payers know that there is new data and recommendations that has come out which show that the yield should increase from our earlier estimates,” he said.
Milazzo said the new yield should decrease the tax rate by approximately 7 cents in all districts except Wells, which is still seeing an increase because the town has not yet reached its unified rate.
Mill River Unified Union School District
Voters in Mill River are looking at a budget of $18,896,395 — up 0.17% from the current fiscal year. Education spending per equalized pupil is set at $17,543, down nearly 1%.
Business Manager Stanley Pawlaczyk said the district is “taking a conservative approach in regard to the property yield number.”
“We are using a property yield number slightly lower than the one being talked about currently in the legislature,” he said. “Based on this estimate, two of our towns will see a slight increase and the other two will see a decrease in their school tax rate.”
In Clarendon, the estimated tax rate after the application of the common level of appraisal (CLA) is $1.58, down about 1 cent. In Tinmouth, the tax rate is down about 4 cents to sit at $1.59. In Shrewsbury, the tax rate is up 1 cent to $1.58. In Wallingford, it’s up about half a cent to $1.57.
Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union
The proposed budget for the Otter Valley Unified Union School District is $21,039,634, a 3.2% increase from the current year. Education spending per equalized pupil is projected to be $15,526, up 0.83%.
The budget benefits from the application of $460,000 in surplus funds as local revenue, which will hold local education spending to a net increase of 1.19%.
According to information provided by Brenda Fleming, RNESU director of business and finance, the new estimated tax rate for Brandon after CLA is $1.38, down 3 cents from the current rate. The tax rate in Goshen is $1.46, down 12 cents. The tax rate in Leicester is sitting flat at $1.41. Pittsford is also flat at $1.44. In Sudbury, the tax rate is $1.25, down 1 cent. In Whiting, the tax rate is down 5 cents at $1.30.
In the Barstow Unified Union School District, the proposed expenditure budget is $5,240,954, up 5.19% over the current year. Equalized per pupil spending is $17,114, a 3.94% increase.
The new estimated tax rate for the district is $1.56 after CLS, resulting in a 6-cent increase over the current rate for Chittenden and keeping Mendon’s tax rate flat.
Rutland City Public Schools
In Rutland City, the proposed budget is $57.8 million, down $1 million from the current. The average cost per equalized pupil is projected to be $16,900 — a 6.7% increase over the current fiscal year.
Director of Finance Ted Plemenos said the proposed budget remains unchanged from what the Board of School Commissioners had approved in January, but acknowledged the new yield would have a favorable impact on the tax rate.
Slate Valley Unified School District
Taxpayers in the Slate Valley district are looking at a proposed budget of $26,280,385, down 0.46%, from the current year. Education spending per equalized pupil is expected to be $16,483.20, a 0.55% increase.
Cheryl M. Scarzello, director of finance, said the district is estimating a tax rate decrease in four of its six towns.
In Benson, the estimated tax rate after CLA is $1.43, an increase of 3 cents from the current year. In Castleton, the tax rate is $1.52, down less than 1 cent. In Fair Haven, the tax rate is $1.29, a 4-cent decrease. Hubbardton is looking at a 6-cent drop in the tax rate to $1.50. Orwell’s tax rate is up about 2 cents to sit at $1.45. And the tax rate in West Haven is down about 1 cent to $1.48.