by Andrew Martin
Officials in Hyde Park are currently considering adopting a tax stabilization policy. As part of their April 11 meeting the Hyde Park Selectboard met with John Mandeville, the executive director of the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation, to discuss the viability of adopting such a policy.
According to Hyde Park Town Administrator Ron Rodjenski, the proposed tax stabilization policy would provide assistance to landowners or project developers by temporarily reducing their local property tax bill while they are making the improvements to their property.
“Both the Selectboard and Village Trustees felt that tax stabilization would be one thing that could be offered to encourage redevelopment and investment in Hyde Park,” explained Rodjenski via email on the reasons for the policy being considered, “There is no anticipation of a major project coming to town immediately, but the policy would be in place for use to help a project succeed.”
Rodjenski went on to explain that it is believed that a successful project would have the benefits of bringing jobs to Hyde Park, improve the Grand List over time, and providing services not currently offered in the town. Other Vermont towns that have adopted similar tax stabilization policies include Hardwick, Johnson, Newport City, Windsor, and Essex.
Rodjenski went on to explain that if the policy is adopted any applications by landowners or developers to have their property tax temporarily reduced would have to be jointly approved by the Hyde Park Selectboard and Hyde Park Village Trustees.
“Successful applicants will sign a contractual agreement with the Town and Village for a term of up to 10 years with their assessment initially reduced, lowering their tax bill, then gradually returning to 100 percent assessment,” explained Rodjenski with regards to how the policy would work.
At the April 11 meeting, John Mandeville had several suggestions for the board on the policy. He advised the board that any proposed contracts should also go through the town attorney. He also suggested that any developer be required to invest a minimum of 25 percent in the property over a specific time period, such as three or five years, and that specific penalties be enforced if the contract is not met. One example of a possible penalty if the standards are not met would be to require the developer to return a portion, or all of the benefits gained from the policy.
While the tax stabilization policy has not yet been adopted, Rodjenski said that the goal is to have it approved sometime in June. If both boards adopt the policy at that time then the program would then be able to begin accepting applications.