Russell Select Board splits tax rates

RUSSELL – At the recommendation of Theodore Gloss, chairman of the Board of Assessors, the Russell Select Board voted to split the tax rate for residents and businesses by 2 percent at yesterday’s tax classification hearing, giving homeowners a slight break and businesses a slight increase in their taxes in the coming fiscal year.
The town previously had adopted a single tax rate for businesses and residential properties.
“We were hoping that having a single tax rate would attract business, but nothing’s moving,” said Nancy Boersig, Russell’s town accountant, said. “It’s not going to mean much for residents, but it’s something.”
Overall, the property tax rate did go up.
“Because of the revaluation, and because of the market, the value of the town went down from $121,629,020 to 115,372,501,” said Gloss. “When the value goes down, the tax rate goes up.” Gloss said property revaluation was down by 5 percent.
Another factor in the devaluation was the reduction in value of the biomass site, according to Gloss.  He said the town had a purchase and sale agreement for $2 million for the site, on which they received income for three years. The site will now be taxed as a warehouse and lumber yard.
Boersig asked Gloss if the town is short on revenue to cover expenses, can they have the capacity to tax more.
Gloss said that every year, the town has a levy limit of 2 1/2 percent, plus growth. This year, the town is anticipating $400,000 in new growth, including improvements to residential properties.  They also have an excess levy capacity of $164,081, according to his report.
“The bad side of this is the school budget, because they use the unused levy limit. They do look at this number – our unused levy – and wave it around,” Gloss said. “The state says you can pay 2 percent percent more. You can’t win.”

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