I understand Bob Bouchard’s concern when he stated in last week’s letter to the editor that “I am afraid Curt comes across as a tax and spend liberal Democrat.” Unlike two of the other candidates for state representative, I have a very short track record of public votes. And in one instance I did indeed support “taxing and spending.”
As a member of the Town’s Governance Committee, I helped research and write our report to the selectboard regarding a local option tax for Colchester. I supported the LOT and the requirement that LOT funds be spent only on town debt service and future voter-approved projects. The selectboard and Colchester voters approved that tax increase. As a result, Colchester saw a one-time 5.4 percent decrease in municipal taxes. Compare your 2014/15 municipal tax rate of $0.5714 to your 2015/16 tax rate of $0.5405. The LOT has brought in nearly $1 million of revenue. When annualized, that is close to the projected $1.29 million we hope to receive each year.
I currently serve on the Colchester School Board. There, too, Colchester saw a surprising 1.89 percent tax rate decrease in the homestead education tax rate from 2015/16 ($1.4386) to 2016/17 ($1.4113). I can’t claim much of an influence toward that reduction. It was the result of what may be a unique coincidence of events at the local and state levels. But one of the contributing factors was a continued emphasis on thoughtful frugality by our entire district school board and administration. I urge readers to view the LCATV.org tapes of the school board meetings or talk to other members to learn more about any contributions I made toward that effort.
Explanations of these reductions may appear to be what Mr. Bouchard calls “smoke and mirrors,” but the bottom line is undeniable: In both cases where I had a marginal influence, tax rates decreased. Tax policy is complicated. A small increase here may result in a large decrease there. With Vermont’s education funding formula, it’s anyone’s guess what each year’s tax rates will be. Any change in tax policy requires careful, thoughtful consideration based on research and common sense. And there may well be unintended consequences.
Most “village-side” Colchester voters know me as the yellow-shirted cyclist that comes around every two years knocking on doors and leaving campaign information. This year I’ve knocked on over 1,000 doors and am still riding. I’ve spoken with over 350 individuals and am well aware of their concern for Vermont’s high cost of living, as well as how much they enjoy living in Colchester and having their children in our school system.
In Montpelier I will represent all of Colchester, not just Democrats. I will certainly seek counsel from the other members of Colchester’s delegation, and I hope to return to some of those I met while campaigning to gain their perspective on proposed legislation.
Candidate for state
representative – CHI-9-1