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Apparently there are some who still have questions about whether they need
to warn an article on the following matter.  We hope this settles this
issue.



ADVICE TO TOWN OFFICIALS ON APPLYING STATE PROPERTY TAX INCOME SENSITIVITY
PAYMENTS TO TAX BILLS



The law:



32 § 6066a.  PAYMENT OF PROPERTY TAX ADJUSTMENTS

(f)  Property tax bills.

(1)  For amounts paid to municipalities on July 1, municipalities shall
include on the homestead property tax bill notice to the taxpayer of the
total amount allocated to payment of homestead property tax liabilities and
notice of the balance due.  By a majority of those voting at an annual or
special meeting called for that purpose, the voters of a municipality may
elect to apply the amount allocated under this chapter to current-year
property taxes to the taxpayers’ property tax installments in order or pro
rata.



It is the opinion of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns that this
section of the law is permissive (“may elect”) and therefore a vote of the
people is not necessary and the selectboard is not required to warn such an
article for Town Meeting, unless petitioned to do so by five percent of the
voters.



If the town does not vote on such an article, it is the selectboard that
will determine whether the payment from the state is applied against the
first payment or pro rata, under their general authority to perform all
duties not performed by any other office. (24 V.S.A. 872)



If the selectboard chooses to have the voters decide; or if the selectboard
receives a petition to require such a vote for the Annual Town Meeting; or
if the voters later petition to have a special town meeting for such
purpose, then the wording of the article to be used will depend on whether
the town uses the Australian ballot for public questions or not.



If you are using Australian ballot for this question, we advise picking one
of the options.



For example:



Shall amounts allocated to current year property taxes under the State of
Vermont's Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program be applied to
the taxpayers' property tax installments in order, in accordance with 32
V.S.A. § 6066a(f)(1)?

or

Shall amounts allocated to current year property taxes under the State of
Vermont's Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program be applied to
the taxpayers' property tax installments pro rata, in accordance with 32
V.S.A. § 6066a(f)(1)?

If you wanted to give a further explanation of "in order" or "pro rata," you
could use the following:



Shall amounts allocated to current year property taxes under the State of
Vermont's Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program be applied to
the taxpayers' property tax installments in order (adjustment would be
applied to first installment first and then if any more, to remaining
installments), in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 6066a(f)(1)?



or

Shall amounts allocated to current year property taxes under the State of
Vermont's Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program be applied to
the taxpayers' property tax installments pro rata (total adjustment would be
divided equally between all installments), in accordance with 32 V.S.A. §
6066a(f)(1)?

The fact that a negative vote on any of the Australian ballot questions will
mean either that the selectboard ends up deciding or requiring another vote
gives another reason for the selectboard to consider making the decision by
itself, unless forced to a vote by a petition.



If your town does not use the Australian ballot for public questions, the
following article could be used:



Shall amounts allocated to current year property taxes under the State of
Vermont's Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program be applied to
the taxpayers' property tax installments in order or pro rata, in accordance
with 32 V.S.A. § 6066a(f)(1)?



To minimize the voter confusion that this question is likely to generate, we
recommend that the town report include a brief explanation of the property
tax income sensitivity program and the examples of "in order" and "pro rata"
provided above.

______________________________
Steven E. Jeffrey
Executive Director
Vermont League of Cities and Towns
89 Main St., Suite 4
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-9111
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