The grand list (the total of all assessed valuation) is flat or too low - shouldn’t we develop more taxable buildings and properties to reduce taxes for the rest of us?
Clearly an expansion of the grand list would spread local property taxes further. We’ve already referenced communities with per capita Grand Lists that are 1.5 to 2 times greater than ours who provide full services for much lower taxes. South Burlington, for example, delivers essentially the same services as Montpelier for an effective municipal tax rate of $0.42 (vs. $1.26 here). Its also probable that housing development might reverse or slow the trend of declining enrollment in the schools which is driving “per-pupil” spending up.
Some caution needs to be exercised though. With Act 60 equalizing grand lists around the state, an expansion of tax base doesn’t always translate to direct benefit to the host community. A major consideration is the impact of any additional service demand created by the newly developed property - are we canceling out new revenue with new expenses? Are development proposals in keeping with the size and scale that’s acceptable to the community?
On going Grand List growth is unquestionably important to the long term financial health of the community. It’s important, however, that people understand the vast amount of property growth necessary to create substantial tax savings (assuming there were no new costs). As illustration, if downtown were replicated, in its entirety, and those property values added to the grand list, the tax rate would drop about $0.08 or $108 dollars to the average resident. And that’s without any additional cost requirements. To reduce the tax rate by $0.75 which puts us in line with the neighboring communities - would require additional taxable property of which equals about 80% of our current taxable property - nearly doubling the community’s property base. While keeping a steady eye on grand list growth is important, it should not be viewed as the one key element to tax reduction.