On February 21, 2024

Affordability is a real concern

Dear Editor,

I recently attended an open meeting at the Public Safety Building where the proposed new Woodstock Middle/High School was the main topic. Ben Ford began the meeting with an overview of the location on site and the cost.

After the initial presentation, questions and concerns became the most talked about items. Concerns were about the age of the building and how many parts are wearing out. Some have even failed already. It was felt that repair costs for these areas would run up into the cost of a new building.

The one area that we all agreed upon was that the best part of the school was the teachers and the education they were providing. Even in a building in need of repair!

The meeting then moved in another direction. The cost. The cost was coming at a time when the state has required a reappraisal of the properties in the district. Primarily, Killington was the main town discussed. The state is requiring that the property values in town be in line with the state’s value of the same properties. At the same time, the state is looking seriously at a significant increase in the tax rate for education taxes.

This is where my concern comes in. If property value is raised say 25% to meet the CLA and the tax rate stays the same, it would raise 25% more money. Add to that (discussion here was 16% tax rate increase) times the increased value and that raises the rate is even higher.

I was on the School Board for 18 years. Yes, I am in favor of a good education. During that time, Act 60 went into effect. It was the first noticeable time when the state set the education rate and the majority of money had to be sent to Montpelier who then decided where the monies were to be sent to other towns and cities.

At that time my personal/home rate was increased by roughly six times, most of which went north to be redistributed. With the current plan under discussion, the amounts will be even greater. For me personally, I am a few months away from retirement at which time Social Security will be one source of income. Yes, Sheila and I have put money aside for retirement. However, depending on the new education tax rate, it likely to increase down the road, there is the distinct possibility that we will need to use the “retirement” money to pay the taxes???

There is a lot going on in town these days. I would like to thank my fellow selectmen Chris Karr and Jim Haff and Town Manager Michael Ramsey for the endless meetings and seminars they have been attending to get the TIF project as well as the East Mountain Road reconstruction to where they are. The road is back in use and work has begun on the TIF with more noticeable work starting in the spring.

Stephen Finneron, Killington Select Board member

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