On January 3, 2024

Residents voice concern about projected tax hike

 

By Curt Peterson

The Woodstock Town Select Board hosted a public information session on Dec.19 in part to quell growing fears over an anticipated hike in state and local taxes. 

Ben Ford, finance chair of the Mountain Views Supervisory Union (MSVU), state Rep. Tesha Buss, and state Sen. Alison Clark were there to answer questions.  

The state’s projected 18.5% education tax rate increase, plus a proposed 16% levy to finance a new middle/high school complex in Woodstock, had residents reeling — adjectives from “daunting” to “excruciating” were commonly used. Several participants mentioned that Woodstock’s taxes are already “painful,” and might dissuade young families from moving to the area and/or force those currently living here (but struggling) to be forced to move out.

The cost estimate for the district’s new middle school/high school is $99 million. It is subject to voter approval by the seven district towns – Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Pittsfield, Pomfret, Reading and Woodstock — on Town Meeting Day in March.

Buss, Ford and Clarkson explained that raising the number of students in the district is key to controlling education taxes.  But residents disagree about both the feasibility of doing that, and how to best go about it. Some say keep taxes as low as possible is the best way to keep and attract young families. Others think investing in the future, rather than patching up the past, will lead to growth. 

Ford said, “Taxes are going to go up year-over-year because education costs and spending are rising statewide,” there are many factors outside of local control, he added. “And the problems

 

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