The Springfield Grand List, the total value of all property in town, shrunk about 13 percent after a town-wide reappraisal and taxes have jumped as a result.
The new combined town and school homestead tax rate is $3.65 per $100 of assessed value and $3.58 per $100 for non-residents, which is about 56 cents per $100 higher than the previous year.
Springfield has one of the highest tax burdens in the state due to its shrinking grand list. This year’s homestead education tax rate of $1.73 per $100 ranks in the top 15 percent statewide.
Last year, Springfield had the second highest municipal tax rate in the state, behind Barre. This year’s municipal homestead rate is $1.92 per $100, is much higher than the average municipal tax rate of 59 cents, said Vermont Department of Taxes Tax Economist Douglas Farnham.
“We’ve been trying to really cut back on the town budget,” said Springfield Select Board member Walter Matrone, who anticipated the grand list would go down, based on what he’s heard from local real estate agents. “The only way we’re going to dig ourselves out of this hole is if we can grow our grand list and improve our property values. To do that we have to invest in the town.”
The town delayed capital expenditures this year, which enabled it to put more than $200,000 to a new downtown park, to be constructed next year.
The town is also in the process of making improvements under the Main Street Master Plan, created last year with landscape architect company Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.
The plan calls for enhanced pedestrian areas and recreation opportunities, a road diet (lane reduction) on Clinton Street, an art and history walk, landscaping and parking area improvements. The investments total to about $7 million.
“In the long run, we’ll be able to control the tax rates better when our town becomes more prosperous,” Matrone said.
Reappraisals are required every 10 years. The grand list was brought down about $820,000, to $5,487,076.
The money collected from taxes will be applied to 2019 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
Matrone said the amount of money voters approved at town meeting in March remains the same, but the tax rates have increased to support those budget figures.
“To get the same amount of money, we have to raise the rates,” Matrone said.
The first payment for taxes is due Aug. 15.
-- KATY SAVAGE