ST ALBANS TOWN -- Selectboard chairman Brendan Deso said the Town’s local rate had to increase only 1.7 cents per hundred in order to cover an increase in policing services contracted cost.
“Luckily, the Selectboard and the Town’s staff worked diligently to pinch pennies throughout our last fiscal year, which allowed us to roll over surplus revenues that helped keep our rate increase down to 1.7 cents. Without the surplus/fund balance, our rate would have increased over three cents per hundred.”
Deso said that rate increase is due in part to the new contract that the Town has with the Franklin County Sheriff’s department, while the homestead education tax rate has increased 12 cents this year, and the non-homestead education rate has increased nine cents.
“That’s part of Maple Run’s budget that is passed separately by the voters,” Deso said. “The school district is a huge part of the bill...on a $5,000 tax bill, the Town might make up $1,000.”
Deso said one of the most important reasons that St. Albans Town is trying to keep the tax rate low is to be able to protect the residents who are on a fixed income,
“Whatever we can do to stabilize their tax rate for the long haul,” Deso said. “We have one of the oldest populations in the country.”
Given that Franklin County is the fastest growing county in the State of Vermont, and that the school’s tax rate is set by the state, and the funding formula is based on the grand list, Deso said there may be a possibility that, down the road, the state may decide to reappraise the properties in the Town.
Real Estate in St. Albans Town
Deso is a broker with Deso realty, and said that COVID changed the game for Vermont’s real estate market.
“The way the housing market in Vermont state-wide has been through COVID, it’s just drastically increased the market value of our housing stock,” Deso said. “It’s not only availability. It’s value. As values increase on an almost exponential curve, its going to lower our common level of assessments state-wide. And as they all lower, eventually one-by-one we’re all going to hit 80. And when you hit 80, it triggers the need for a reassessment.”
Right now, Deso said, the Town is at a level of 95.
Increasing the value
Currently, St. Albans Town is expecting to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act, and is already planning for how to potentially use it, Deso said.
“One of the allowed uses for the ARPA money is water and sewer infrastructure,” Deso said. “As a Town, we are looking to see what investments we can make for a higher density residential build-out in areas where it would be appropriate. Like St. Albans Bay needs some type of a municipal sewer system...we’re making steps to make sure that we invest this once-in-a-generation windfall into something that’s going to pay off.”