Burlington city councilor slams city’s recent reassessment

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 5:26 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2021 at 6:09 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Progressives in Burlington are condemning the city’s recent reassessment and calling for an overhaul of the property tax system, including higher taxes for business and a cap on what lower-income residents would pay.

“I think it just speaks to a way that we can better serve people and have less of this sort of shock come all at once,” said Joe Magee, P-Burlington City Council.

Magee is talking about a resolution he wrote that calls for the city to come up with a better way of conducting reappraisals and using that as a jumping-off point for examining property tax reform in the city.

The resolution suggests looking at a differential tax rate for second homes, a surcharge on short-term rentals and even a municipal tax income sensitivity similar to the education tax.

In the first iteration of the resolution released last week, Magee was highly critical of the Weinberger administration for how it conducted the reassessment. But he has since taken some of those statements out.

“I don’t think it would have passed the way that it was initially written, it was very partisan and unfair about some of the statements about the administration and that’s been fixed in the interest of focusing on the substance and seeing if we can solve some problems together,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

Some of these criticisms included doing the reassessment during a pandemic, which likely contributed to lower assessments on commercial property, shifting more of the tax burden onto homeowners.

Weinberger says the city asked the state to postpone the reappraisal but was denied.

Magee wants a post-pandemic appraisal of commercial spaces, something the administration is looking into, as well.

“We need to take that into account and figure out a way we can balance that out and acknowledge that commercial property values will be going back up they’ve started rebounding already and I think that would be important for us to examine in this process,” Magee said.

Magee’s proposal also talks about shifting the burden less away from marginalized people including increasing the city’s commercial property tax rate.

While Weinberger says he’s OK with taking a deep-dive look into the processes behind reappraisals and property taxes in this resolution, he knows there are already issues with how Burlingtonians are taxed and he is worried about some of the solutions put forth in the resolution.

“I think the state property tax system is the most progressive-- that it taxes wealthier taxpayers already,” Weinberger said.

If passed the resolution would create committees that would hold hearings and investigate how property tax and reappraisals work in the city. They are expected to deliberate Monday night.

Related Stories:

Tax Burdened: Residents bear the brunt of Burlington’s first property reassessment in 16 years

Sticker shock: 71% of Burlington homeowners see property tax increase

What will reassessment cost Burlington residents?

Burlington mobile homes reappraised incorrectly; city fixing the mistake

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