Middlebury sees major tax rate drop

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday unanimously endorsed a fiscal year 2020 residential property tax rate of $2.34 per $100 in property value.

That’s an astounding 50 cents less than the fiscal year 2019 residential rate of $2.8414, but Middlebury taxpayers shouldn’t do cartwheels thinking they’re in store for a huge discount for municipal and public education services this year. That’s because Middlebury just completed a town-wide reappraisal of properties. Residential and commercial assessments that on average had slipped to 88 percent (or lower) of true market value have now been assigned 2019 valuations.

All of this means that Middlebury’s grand list has increased and the local property tax rate has seen a corresponding decrease. The municipal tax rate is computed by dividing the amount needed to be raised, by the community’s grand list, Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay explained.

Middlebury’s fiscal year 2020 municipal property rate is 80.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. The fiscal year 2019 (pre-reappraisal) rate was 98.3 cents.

The community’s new residential education rate is $1.5379, down from last year’s rate of $1.8578. The new non-residential education rate for Middlebury is $1.5483, down from the fiscal year 2019 rate of $1.8645.

So all told, Middlebury’s new residential property tax rate adds up to $2.34 per $100 of assessed property value, with a non-residential rate of $2.35 (down from $2.4814 last year).

A major driver in determining Middlebury’s education property tax rate was its Common Level of Appraisal (CLA). The CLA is a formula that adjusts the assessed value of property to bring it in line with fair market value; the goal is that property taxpayers across Vermont pay taxes based on property assessed at fair market value.

Middlebury’s CLA was 81.54 in 2018 and is now 102.95 in 2019, as a result of the reappraisal.

Local officials said Middlebury residents shouldn’t see a big surge in their new property tax bills, based on the town’s and school district’s fiscal year 2020 budgets that were approved at town meeting last March. The municipal spending plan required a 2.2-percent increase in property tax revenues. The Addison Central School District spending plan called for a 2.24-percent bump.

Ramsay provided a sample tax bill comparison for a Middlebury condominium, selected at random. The condo was valued at $169,400 in 2018, and thus would have paid taxes on a municipal rate of 98.3 cents and an education property tax rate of $1.8578. The condo owner’s resulting total bill would have been $4,814. That same condo’s value has jumped to $208,600 since the reappraisal. The condo owner will now pay property taxes at a municipal rate of 80.2 cents and an education rate of $1.5379. The condo owner’s property tax bill is now $4,882.

Here are the new property tax rates for the other Addison Central School District towns: Bridport, Cornwall, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge:

• Bridport’s fiscal year 2020 residential property tax rate is $2.1985, up six-tenths of a penny from last year’s rate of $2.1921. The new, non-residential rate is $2.2093, up 1.1 cents from $2.1979.

• Cornwall officials recently set a fiscal year 2020 residential property tax rate of $1.5844, up almost 2 cents from last year’s rate of  $1.5651. The new, non-residential rate is now $1.5951, up around 2.4 cents from the previous $1.5707.

• Ripton’s new residential property tax rate is $2.3595, up around 2.9 cents from the previous fiscal year 2019 rate of $2.3303. The community’s new non-residential rate is $2.3713, up around 3.5 cents from last year’s $2.3367.

• Salisbury officials recently OK’d a fiscal year 2020 residential property tax rate of $1.9985, up around 8 cents from the fiscal year 2019 rate of $1.9183. The fiscal year 2020 non-residential rate comes in at $1.9874, up around 6.3 cents from $1.9241.

• Shoreham’s new residential property tax rate is $2.2275, up three-tenths of a penny from the fiscal year 2019 rate of $2.2246. The new non-residential rat is $2.2383, up eight-tenths of a penny from the previous rate of $2.2302.

• The fiscal year 2020 residential property tax in Weybridge has been set at $2.0652, up 2.8 cents from the previous rate of $2.037. The non-residential rate comes in at $2.0761, up 3.3 cents from last year’s rate of $2.0428.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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