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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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