South Burlington voters to decide on tax increase

Published: Feb. 5, 2019 at 1:06 AM EST
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South Burlington voters will have to decide whether to approve a tax increase on Town Meeting Day.

The city hopes the tax increase will help fund some major projects, but some in the community worry higher taxes put South Burlington businesses at a disadvantage.

The city gets $3.5 million to $3.7 million each year from the local option tax on sales, meals, rooms and alcohol. The city wants to double that by raising the tax by 1 percent.

"We would feel those impacts as residents here and so, too, would those visiting here," City Manager Kevin Dorn said.

Dorn said it may be worth it with the extra money going toward voter-approved projects. The city hopes an indoor recreational facility and performing arts center will be among them.

"I think that it's a different question if you're going to spend that money on general government operations like salaries and health care and those sorts of things. Very different when you're talking about specific capital investments designed to improve the economic vitality and attractiveness and quality of life in South Burlington," Dorn said.

The new tax rate would bring South Burlington in line with many of Burlington's rates.

The general manager of Pulcinella's, Kyla Drew, says a 1 percent increase isn't a make-or-break for the restaurant. For her, it's just another unnecessary tax.

Drew said even if people get a hotel in South Burlington, many head to downtown Burlington when they visit.

"They see the extra revenue, while we don't," Drew said.

With Higher Ground thinking of moving from South Burlington to Burlington, Drew said she's concerned.

"We're losing our one nighttime venue so who's going to replace that?" Drew said.

Ultimately, this tax increase would require a charter change, so the state Legislature would need to give approval.