Under Vermont’s Constitution, money bills must start in the House of Representatives before advancing to the Senate. This week, the House passed key money bills, including the FY2020 State budget (H.542) and education finance bill (H.536). These are significant pieces of legislation that impact every community member.

The FY2020 State budget allocates spending for programs and services provided by State Government. The $6.1 billion budget moved out of the Appropriations Committee on a unanimous vote before proceeding to the floor, where it passed on Thursday by a vote of 139-1. Final passage was achieved today. Taking all funds into account (State & Federal, unduplicated) the House budget grows at a rate of 2.6% as compared with the 3.1% growth rate proposed by the Governor. I will share more information about this in a future update.

FY2020 education finance bill sets education tax rates at the level required to fund school budgets that local voters have passed. Most of these school budgets were voted on Town Meeting Day. The House-passed bill sets tax rates as follows:

Average homestead property tax rate – $1.501 (up $0.002 from last year), which would amount to a $4.00 increase for a taxpayer paying the homestead rate on a $200,000 home.

Non-homestead property tax rate – $1.582 (up $0.002 from last year), or a $4.00 increase for a taxpayer paying the non-homestead rate on a $200,000 property.

Average tax rate on household income – 2.45% (down 0.03%), or a decrease of $23.00 on $75,000 household income.

These estimates are calculated using statewide data and assume an average rate. Once the bill is finalized and becomes law, your actual property tax bill will be based upon factors across the state and in our community, such as our school district’s approved budget, pupil count, and things like local and statewide property values. As a reminder, our local school vote will be held on Tuesday, April 9th. The Essex Westford School District’s annual meeting will be held at the High School the evening before, at 7:00pm, on Monday, April 8th.

Village Meeting will be held at the High School at 7:00pm next Wednesday, April 3rd. A free dinner will be served in the cafeteria at 6:00pm, ahead of Village Meeting. You can catch me there or at our next legislative community coffee, which will run from 8:30 – 10:00am on Saturday, April 13th at Sweet Alchemy Bakery & Cafe (45 Upper Main Street).

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch this session. I look forward to chatting more soon.