Featured, Local News

City voters to consider option tax 

Rutland city voters will consider a 1% sales option tax on Town Meeting Day, March 7.

The option tax has been discussed by the Board of Aldermen several times in the past but this will be the first time it’s put before voters.

The option tax was last considered in 2017 when David Allaire faced Michael Coppinger in the mayoral race. Coppinger used the option tax as a campaign platform, while Allaire opposed the tax. 

“I didn’t feel the timing was right,” said Allaire, who won the 2017 race. “I wanted to get into the office and look at the lay of the land and see how our finances were. When I got elected I thought we were in good shape financially.”

Allaire said his position has changed. 

“We have some looming issues in front of us,” he said. “Unless we find an outside revenue resource, we’re not going to be able to tackle them.” 

The city is facing a lack of funds for capital improvement and a city pension deficit. 

The option tax would generate an estimated $1-$1.2 million. Allaire said he’d propose that some of the money go to property tax relief. 

Allaire is facing challenger Mike Doenges for mayor on Town Meeting Day.  

Doenges, the chair of the Board of Aldermen, also supports the option tax. 

“It’s not a massive tax,” Doenges said.  

Doenges said shoppers are used to seeing the option tax as neighboring towns, including Rutland town and Brandon, have a local option tax in place. 

Doenges said he’s spoken to  many business owners, who will carry the burden of collecting the tax. They were mostly supportive.   

“They don’t seem to have any negative feedback,” Doenges said. 

City voters will also consider a $23,261,061 budget on Town Meeting Day. The budget is up 2.4% from the previous budget. 

Allaire said he was able to fight inflation by not budgeting for positions the city has been unable to fill.

There are four vacancies on the 32-officer police department. Allaire said he would find funding if those positions were filled. 

Allaire also eliminated an assistant city attorney position after  struggling to find the right candidate. 

The city saved around $420,000 in salary expenses.

Allaire said fuel, salaries and increases in cost of materials used by the public works department are driving the slight budget increase.  

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