On August 20, 2014

School funding formula conundrum

Dear Editor,

When I read in the August 18, 2014 Rutland Herald article that the Town of Chester is holding a “tutorial” on how state funding for schools really work. The town manager, David Pisha, said that the education rate is too big to understand so why do anything about it. The resident rate funding formula raised Chester’s education tax by 12.4%. It is time we Killington residents come together for such a meeting!

Having attended a meeting last week at the South Burlington High School I learned that there are a lot of other towns having problems keeping up with the education tax and perhaps that is why 35 other towns turned down their budgets. Brandon’s vote next week to approve its budget after 4 “no” votes is indicative of voters concern about the lack of transparency on the issue. When I attended Killington’s discussion about the school budget, there were no questions and few in attendance in March.

In reviewing my property taxes over the past 12 years or so, I discovered that my home was taxed at $1900 in 1998, $13,000 in 2010 and $10,300 in 2014. Almost all of these amounts go to the State’s education tax. In adding up the total payments through 2013, I estimate I have paid more than $100,000 in property taxes since Act 60 began which is just about what the value of my home has declined. Unfortunately, at this time there are no buyers anyway. I wonder why? The State education tax is destroying the “equity” in my home.

When one observes that lack of new construction in Killington it is a far cry from the old days. The builders, carpenters, pavers, foundation concrete, electricians, carpet sales, roofing, windows and doors, and real estate brokers, landscaping, and more are having a difficult time. This results in fewer children in our schools. Not just in Killington but just about every other town in Vermont. The State of Vermont keeps asking why Vermont has 20,000 fewer students in 11 years. The answer lies in the fact that the kids did “not die” but the parents moved away to find better jobs. And unfortunately it is doing the same all over the State. Since the State has no more “reserves,” the Education Tax will go up another 5% in 2015.

It is time we citizens come together to have a discussion about what the State of Vermont is doing to our community. One other thing is that the Education Tax has expanded while the State has not funded its agreed upon share into the fund. Furthermore, the Education Tax is now funding “pre-school,” “adult education,” and education for prisoners in our jails. Furthermore, 70% of our residents get prebates.

It is time Vermonters learn the facts and vote people into office who do not have a “D” in front of their legislative agenda. The time for change is now. And finally, if you think Act 60/68 is onerous, you better get ready for ShumlinCare. The governor has no idea how people will pay for this $2.2 billion single payer plan after he gets everyone to sign up for the exchange in advance. The deductibles will not help Vermonters and neither will the payments. And, once in place, the fees and charges for employers and employees will rise over time and Vermonters will see their medical bills rise just like the education tax.

Edwin J. Fowler, a Killington concerned resident

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