Level tax rates won't prevent Vt. property tax bill increases

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Property tax rates are projected to remain level in 2019. The bad news, however, is that many property tax bills will continue to increase.

The average property tax rates are projected to hold steady -- $1.50 per every $100 dollars of home value for residential properties, and $1.58 for non-residential property. But, property values are expected to rise, so those same tax rates will be applied to more valuable parcels.

"Generally, in most communities in Vermont, we're seeing increase in home value. So, even with a level tax rate, you'll be taxed effectively on a higher home value as the market appreciates," said Vermont Tax Commissioner Kaj Samsom. He says he is generally happy with the projected tax rates for next year. Last year, the state faced significant increases. Still, Samsom says there are troubling trends. "The underlying trend of having 4 percent plus in per pupil spending growth in an environment of continued decline in pupils is still of concern to the administration."

Per pupil spending is slated to rise by more than $600 and the state is projected to lose another 700 students in the public education system.

These projections are subject to change of course, but the projections will help shape the debate in the Statehouse, where property tax rates were a major dispute the last two years between Republican Gov. Phil Scott and the democratic Legislature.

If property tax rates stay flat, expect property tax bills to rise about 1.5 percent. That's because of the higher property values expected and the level of spending projected at the local school district level.

School districts are expected to spend about three percent more than they did last year. If they spend less, the governor and lawmakers will have options. They could lower tax rates and potentially lower property tax bills. They could choose to designate some of the savings to early or higher education. Gov. Scott has proposed to do that and says he will be paying out a plan early next year.