WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Tax Hike Expected in Burlington

Dec 11, 2012

Property owners in Burlington should anticipate a significant increase in the city’s portion of their property tax bills.

Burlington City Hall

City Manager Jim Ferneau said Burlington is dealing with increasing day-to-day expenses and a growing list of capital improvement projects.

He said debt service payments are also escalating because past administrations established smaller up-front payments without looking to the future impact.

Ferneau said there is also a cash flow issue plaguing Burlington.

He said increasing the property tax rate by around $2.50 would go a long way towards addressing those issues, but he acknowledged an increase of that size could be difficult for the city council, and the public, to accept.

Ferneau said, because of that, he is preparing scenarios where the rate is increased by $1.50 and by $1.75.

“I am not sure that is where the city council will end up,” said Ferneau, “but they are willing to at least look at it.  They certainly did not want to go to the higher end of that.”

Ferneau says keeping the increase below $1.50 would require more dramatic cuts to the capital improvement plan and possibly the departmental budgets.

He says Burlington could also spread the payments out over even more years, but he says that got the city’s current financial situation.

Some of the items on the list of capital improvements that could be dropped include a new police station, miles of street reconstruction and a downtown parking ramp.