Lilly Young | Community News Service
November property tax payments in Shelburne are running behind last year’s — to no one’s surprise.
A week after the Nov. 15 payment deadline, about $600,000 of the $11 million due had not been paid, finance director Peter Frankenburg told the town’s selectboard on Nov. 24.
The balance due made up 5.4 percent, compared to the 3 percent of November taxes that were unpaid at the same point in 2019. Frankenburg told the board he expects to receive both additional payments postmarked by the due date, but not yet received, and late payments made in response to delinquent notices that will be mailed this month.
“This is concerning, and we need to be watchful, but this did not come as a surprise,” selectboard chair Jerry Storey said after hearing Frankenburg’s presentation.
Town officials had prepared earlier this year for a loss of some tax payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, board members said, although property tax receipts are slower this year, they are not dramatically worse than past years, despite the virus.
The first installment of property tax payments — postponed from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15 this year because of COVID — also fell short, although by a smaller amount, about $95,000.
Town officials had feared the pandemic would create financial hardships for families and businesses, so to prepare for a possible loss of revenue the town deferred $500,000 in spending from the municipal budget of $9.5 million. The spending pauses were spread across virtually every department, town manager Lee Krohn said.
After analyzing the results of both property tax installments, the selectboard released $12,500 from the funds deferred due to COVID. The money will be spent on dispatch communications improvements.
The selectboard also agreed to abate some or all of the penalties and interest due from five property owners for late payment of their November taxes, a total of $1,484.
“These are our neighbors and friends, people we work with … but we do have a stewardship of the town,” Storey said.
In other action, the select board appointed Ruth Hagerman to the historic preservation and design review committee.
The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.