Shumlin Moves To Ease Taxes In Irene-Damaged Towns

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(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin says he’s putting together a plan to ease property tax burdens in communities that have suffered enormous damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

Shumlin is concerned that the state’s current education funding system could result in unfair burdens for some homeowners.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports

(Kinzel) Although the details of the plan won’t be released until next week, the goal of the program is to make certain that property taxpayers in communities hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene don’t face additional tax burdens.

This could happen in a number of ways. Homeowners who didn’t suffer any damage, could see some of their town’s tax burden shifted onto their properties.

Or if assessments of damaged homes were not immediately changed, these homeowners could face a tax burden that far exceeds the current value of their property.

Shumlin says these concerns need to be addressed in the near future on a statewide basis:

(Shumlin) "It’s a lot of technicalities it’s a little complicated but we’re working on a plan to ensure that Irene doesn’t adversely affect property tax rates in communities that were whacked so hard by the flood but where they’re seeing property tax assessments drop considerably because there’s so much damage in those communities."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says part of the plan will also allow some communities to delay paying their share of taxes to the state’s education fund:

(Shumlin) "It will be a comprehensive plan that will keep them from having financial stress and that’s part of it."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says there’s also good news for communities that face high repair costs to local transportation projects:

(Shumlin) "So the good news is that our local communities that are struggling so hard with property tax challenges right now we think that they’re only going to have to pay about 5 % of any repair costs for local roads and bridges."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says he’s working with a number of governors in states that also have suffered a lot of damage to their state transportation systems to ensure that the federal government pays virtually all of these repair costs.

That’s a decision that will ultimately be made by Congress.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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