Local option taxes were authorized by the state legislature to “reduce the dislocations in those municipalities that may be caused by reforms to the method of financing public education under the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1997.” In other words the option taxes were authorized to mitigate the egregious tax increase caused by the education act. The Town of Killington took advantage of this legislation and imposed these option taxes, which included a one percent sales tax.
There is presently a strong movement at state level to reform the education tax in order to reduce the burden it imposes. However the burden is still there. Thus the need for the revenue from the one percent sales tax still exists. To eliminate the sales tax at this time would cause property owners’ taxes to rise in a manner contrary to the intent of the state legislation.
Eliminating the tax thereby increasing property taxes would also infer that education tax reform is not needed. This would make it more difficult to accomplish the needed reform to reduce taxes.
The town has the burden of paying off the debt associated with our municipal golf course. When the course was built we were told that in the future we may need a slight tax increase to pay the debt. At that time the tax burden imposed by the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1997 did not exist. A small tax increase was not a problem. Now we have the burden of that act and a small tax increase is a problem. Now we need the revenue from the one percent sales tax to cover our costs and avert a tax increase. This is especially true given the coming debate over the future of our fire house.
Another issue is the town’s ability to borrow money. Lenders look to a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. In the ease of a municipality lenders look to the ability of the borrower to raise tax revenue. Eliminating the one percent sales tax would impact this ability thus making financing town debt more difficult.
Transients now pay the one percent sales tax on purchases they make here. This helps pay for municipal services like road maintenance, police and fire protection. Should the one percent sales tax be eliminated we would be eliminating a means by which transients help pay for the services they use.
In the future there may be education spending and tax reform that lower taxes to a reasonable person’s level. In the alternative the ski resort could assume the debt on the municipal golf course and supply us with a new fire house. Under these circumstances eliminating the option tax could be practical.
However at this time rescinding the one percent sales tax makes no sense.
David Rosenblum, Killington