By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger
RUTLAND – Rutland City’s grand list still tops $1 billion, but it has dropped over the past year by $10 million.
The grand list is the assessed value of the property in the city. Recent figures prepared by the city’s assessor’s office show that the current grand list stands at $1,009,768,434. That’s a dip of $10,815,046, or about 1 percent, from the previous year’s value of $1,020,583,480.
“It’s a number of things, it’s hard to pinpoint one or two factors,” City Assessor Barry Keefe said Thursday, July 13, of the slight decrease in grand list value. “It seems that we’ve always been hovering around $1 billion and that’s where we are.”
The figures show a large drop came in the value of residential property, which went from $624,383,400 to $623,250,500, a decrease of $1,132,900. Also, the value of commercial property dipped $1,951,200, from $244,341,100 to $242,389,900.
There were also decreases in business personal property values and some properties went off the tax rolls, as well.
The city has total of 5,885 parcels. That includes 229 tax-exempt properties, an increase of seven tax-exempt parcels from the previous year.
The grand list is used as the city sets the tax rate for the coming year. The city’s Board of Aldermen meets later this month to set that tax rate. The grand list is a key factor in the tax rate, with the higher its value, the lower the tax rate needing to be.
The topic of the city’s grand list was touched on briefly Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen’s Community and Economic Development Committee.
Mayor David Allaire told committee members he had recently learned of the $10 million grand list decrease.
“The past couple of years it’s been stagnant and we’re looking at ways to turn that around,” the mayor said of the grand list after the meeting.
The committee took a couple of steps at Wednesday’s meeting aimed at doing that.
The panel endorsed a process for disposing of the city-owned properties that the municipality acquires primarily through tax sales when no one shows up to bid on the parcel. The city currently has about 20 such properties.
The mayor and committee members said at the meeting that the goal of the policy is to get the city out of the real estate business and put the properties back on the tax rolls.
The committee Wednesday night, July 12, also agreed to make changes to its business incentive and assistance program aimed at attracting additional commercial activity to the community. The committee voted to expand the program to retail businesses as well as restaurants. Previously, those types of enterprises were exempt from taking part.
The program provides loans and grants to new commercial enterprises tied to employee hiring and business investments.
Only one business has taken advantage of the program since it went into effect into 2015, Brennan Duffy, Rutland Redevelopment Authority executive director, told the committee Wednesday night.
Expanding the field of eligible businesses will hopefully increase the number of applicants, he added.
Both initiatives passed by the panel Wednesday still need the approval of the Board of Aldermen, which was expected to take them up at its meeting Monday night, July 17.