Update: Dire predictions on school property taxes aren’t coming true - VTDigger

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Severe nonprofit news in Vermont.



For the country's treasury, this is more than just good news. This is a boon for schools and property owners in Vermont, otherwise their education taxes may soar next year.

As state revenues increased, the House Ways and Means Committee last week

In the next fiscal year, this will increase the average educational property tax rate by approximately 3%. This is a far cry from the original 9% increase

Until the state has a clear understanding of its expected income.

Legislation has some way to go before it can be signed into law, but it provides a sense of the legislature’s approach. 

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Taking into account the dire predictions released to the public two months ago, Rep. Janet Ancel, Democrat of the House Ways and Means Committee, stated that her team believes that approval of the bill is "a very important signal." . 

She said that the December forecast contains a very different set of facts. What we want to say is that these facts have changed. Based on our current understanding, this is the result we think is most likely to be produced. "

This news is unlikely to affect the school board’s spending recommendations for the next school year, because many people have already sent their budgets to the printing houses. But this will greatly help these budgets win the approval of voters on the day of the town meeting on March 2, otherwise the year will be turbulent again and again.

Brad James, the financial manager of the Education Bureau, said frankly. He told the "Fundraising Committee" on Wednesday: "This will make this field extremely happy."

The $1.8 billion education fund is used to pay for the expenses of schools in Vermont before K-12. Its income comes from property taxes, in addition to sales, meals and guest rooms, and purchase and use taxes. 

The purpose of establishing this fund is to make self-correction on the basis of property tax. For example, if non-property tax revenue stagnates and school spending increases, the legislature can adjust the "rate of return" (the number that calculates the local tax rate) to increase property taxes and make up the difference.

The fiscal impact of the pandemic is difficult to predict accurately, but consumption tax revenue is expected to plummet during the economic downturn. As recently as December, the state’s financial analysts predicted that the Ed Fund would need to make up a funding gap of $58 million this year. 

But it's worth noting that the state's digital crunchers are now expected to increase non-property tax income by $70 million, and the forecast deficit has become a projected surplus of $18.6 million.

Chloe Wexler, an analyst at the Legislature's Joint Treasury Office, told lawmakers on Wednesday that the December forecast is only positive for August tax data. She said that with five months of data available in January, it is clear that Vermont's sales and use taxes are actually "well performing in the current economy." 

Almost certainly, this is due to the unprecedented stimulus spending by the federal government, which has already benefited certain economic sectors in Vermont. For example, food and room revenues are still falling sharply, but online business tax revenues are strong.

Wexler said: "People are shopping."

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Lola Duffort is an education reporter for VTDigger. Prior to Digger, Lola provided services to schools in Concord Monitor and Rutland Herald in New Hampshire. She also grew up in the Miami Herald in Florida. She graduated from McGill University in Canada.


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