The Town of Waitsfield will hold the first of two public hearings on a proposed charter amendment regarding local option taxes on Monday, January 27, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. The hearing will be held in the conference room of the Waitsfield Town Offices, located at 4144 Main Street. 

The second public hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 17, 2020. A public informational session is scheduled for Monday, March 2, 2020. All hearings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. starts. The amendment, if submitted to voters, would appear on the warning for Town Meeting 2020, which is March 3, 2020. 

The proposed amendment would enable the implementation of local option taxes at a later date – and only after an affirmative, subsequent vote from the public. An amendment to the charter is required for Waitsfield to levy a local tax of one percent on sales, rooms, meals, and alcohol. Municipalities that levy local option taxes receive 70 percent of the revenue; the State retains 30 percent as well as a per return fee (paid from municipal proceeds). 

The amendment would add a new section (currently proposed as 155A-7) to the charter, and is drafted as shown below:

“24 V.S.A. Appendix § 155A-7. Local Option Taxes.

(a) Upon motion approved by the Selectboard or upon receipt of a petition submitted to the Selectboard signed by five percent of registered voters of the Town the voters of the Town may vote, at an annual or special meeting warned for the purpose, by a majority of those present and voting, to assess any or all of the following: (1) A one percent sales tax; (2) A one percent rooms tax; (3) A one percent meals and alcoholic beverage tax.  

(b) A vote on local option taxes shall be conducted by Australian ballot.   (c) A tax imposed under the authority of this section shall be collected and administered, and may be rescinded, as provided by the general laws of the State of Vermont.” 

Please contact Town Administrator Trevor M. Lashua at (802) 496-2218, ext. 5; or [email protected] with questions.

Junk Piles on Route 100

This post is written to provide an update on the junk piles on Route 100 that have generated some level of public discussion.

The State of Vermont is responsible for the regulation and enforcement of junk or salvage yards (both the permitted and unpermitted types).

The Town’s zoning regulations focus on where a salvage yard may or may not be allowed, not how to enforce an issue on a property that may or may not run afoul of the State’s rules and regulations.

Municipalities can adopt ordinances that further enable enforcement related to junk piles and salvage yards[1]; Waitsfield does not have such an ordinance in place.

The Town could adopt an ordinance; because of statutory requirements related to ordinance adoption it would be a minimum of 60 days before one could be effective, even if an ordinance were adopted today. The Board must also weigh a response to a single issue or concern against larger townwide needs – a single incident is not necessarily evidence of an epidemic or trend.

The Town first asked salvage yard enforcement personnel from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to investigate whether or not the piles were violations of the salvage yard regulations in the fall of 2019. DEC personnel investigated, spoke with the landowner on more than one occasion, and have determined that the junk piles do not currently meet the criteria to be considered a violation under the State’s enforcement framework. The rules and regulations focus on the number of unregistered vehicles (boats do not count as unregistered vehicles) and the composition of the piles.

In accordance with State and local rules, regulations, and ordinances (or the lack thereof) – and regardless of aesthetics, appropriateness, or the property owner’s purpose – the piles are allowed to be kept as constituted on the individual’s property at this time.

The issues the owner of the junk piles has highlighted with neighboring properties have been referred to the applicable State authorities. No formal complaint has been filed with the Town by the landowner at this time related to potential violations of the zoning ordinance.

[1] 24 V.S.A. Chapters 59 and 61; 23 V.S.A. § 2157

FY20 Property Taxes – Rates and Due Dates

The residential and non-residential rates for FY20 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020) have been set.

For residential properties:

Municipal rate = $0.4308 per $100 of assessed value.

Local agreement rate (municipal) = $0.0035 per $100 of assessed value.

Residential (Homestead) education rate = $1.6548 per $100 of assessed value.

Total FY20 residential property tax rate = $2.0891 per $100 of assessed value.

For non-residential properties:

Municipal rate = $0.4308 per $100 of assessed value.

Local agreement rate (municipal) = $0.0035 per $100 of assessed value.

Non-residential education rate = $1.6217 per $100 of assessed value.

Total FY20 non-residential property tax rate = $2.0560 per $100 of assessed value. 

Taxes are paid in quarterly installments, and due on the following dates:

September 15, 2019 (Monday)

November 15, 2019 (Friday)

February 17, 2020 (Monday)

May 15, 2020 (Friday)

Volunteer Opportunities – Board, Committee, and Commission Vacancies

Interested in participating in local government?

The Town of Waitsfield has the following openings on its boards, committees, and commissions:

  • Cemetery Commission — one seat; remaining two years of an unexpired five-year term (expiring March 2021).
  • Planning Commission – one seat; remainder of a four-year term (expiring March 2021).
  • Water Commission – one seat; two-year term (expiring March 2021).

To apply, send an email or letter of interest to Town Administrator Trevor Lashua at [email protected], or by mailing one to:

Town of Waitsfield

Attn: Town Administrator

4144 Main Street

Waitsfield, VT 05673

FY20 Budget and FY20-FY24 Capital Improvement Program – as approved.

The FY20 budget and FY20-FY24 capital improvement program (CIP) and budget were approved by voters at Town Meeting on March 5th. 

The FY20 Budget as approved is $1,971,058, an increase of 4.6% (+$87,372) from the budget for FY19. The projected impact on the municipal portion of the property tax rate is an increase of 2.13 cents per $100 (+5.1%) of assessed value; the increase for owners of homes assessed between $200,000 and $400,000 is estimated to be between $43 and $85 for the year.

Voters added $35,000 to the budget from the floor: $10,000 to restore the transfer to the Restroom/Recreation/Conservation reserve and $25,000 to the paving reserve. A copy of the FY20 budget, FY20-FY24 CIP, and debt service table are below. 

FY20 Budget, Debt Schedule, FY20-24 CIP, and FY20 Capital Reserves – as approved at Town Meeting 2019 (03-05-19)