By Curt Peterson
According to Killington Select Board member Jim Haff, there are more than 600 short-term rental properties (STRs) in Killington. Many of those owners have recently spoken out against the town’s proposal to increase fees for registering the properties.
Proposed increases were significant, adding $250 to each of three categories: one and two bedrooms, currently $150 per year, three bedrooms, currently $200 per year, and four or more bedrooms, currently $250 per year.
Haff said the program received revenue of $112,000 in its first full year, but expenses, including monitoring fees and legal costs for collecting fines, were more than what was taken in. Plus, going forward, the program will help support a new salaried fire chief and deputy, who will be performing STR safety inspections.
Other towns and the monitoring agency had warned the current registration fees would be insufficient to sustain the program.
“They are advising us to raise our fee schedule a lot more than what we’re proposing,” Haff said.
Short-term rental property owners who have obeyed the rules, registering their units and paid the requested fees, however, say it’s unfair for them to have to cover monitoring and legal fees and other costs caused by “a few bad apples.”
Other objections were related to the categorical divisions. A one-bedroom unit, they said, would cost double the current fee of $300, while a six-bedroom rental, producing significantly more income, would be charged the same $250 increase, bringing the fee to $500.
The Select Board discussed the issue during an executive session, and, on Friday, Aug. 26, published a revised schedule of STR registration fees, which were as follows:
- Studio/1 bedroom-$300
- 2 bedroom-$350
- 3 bedroom-$400
- 4 bedroom-$500
- 5 bedroom-$550
- 6 or more bedrooms-$600
If the Select Board adopts the proposed new rates, the new fee schedule will take effect in November 2022 for the renewals of registrations. Haff and Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth said the revisions are a direct response to what Haff called “logical reasoning” by owners.
The Select Board will discuss the newly proposed pricing at its next regular Select Board meeting, Monday, Sept. 12. The meeting is open and the public is welcome to attend.
STR owner Louis Illizio requested and received a full explanation of the reasoning for the change, how the categories and fees were determined, and how he might find a report of the STR program’s finances.
“When we started the program we underestimated the costs,” Haff told Illlizio at the Aug. 26 meeting. “The new fees are an adjustment to make it sustainable.”
Haff added raising the fines for non-registration and advertising violations is under consideration, which would put more of the costs where they belong – on “the few bad apples.
“It’s possible that might allow us to reduce the rates in the future,” Haff said.