Town's tax rate declines

ARLINGTON - Residents of Arlington will have a smaller tax bill this September. At Monday night's select board meeting, the board approved the 2014 tax rate of $1.7358.

This year, the municipal tax rate was set at $0.33, up three cents from last year. However, the homestead education rate is lower, from $1.4498 to $1.4058.

While the municipal rate is higher, the overall rate has gone down slightly, Cynthia Browning, a Select Board member said.

Keith Squires, chair of the select board said the voted budget from this year's Town Meeting came in at approximately $1.25 million. The grand list, he said, is up some from last year to nearly $315 million.

The board also approved a non residential tax rate of $1.7571, up approximately five cents from 2013.

Along with the tax rate, the board discussed the new plans for the Battenkill Valley Health Center. The health center, which will be located in the Arlington Family Practice building is a federally qualified health center (FQHC). According to their website, a FQHC is a community based organization that provides primary and preventative care, including services like dental and mental health care, regardless of their ability to pay.

The select board was discussing the centers conditional use permit for their renovations of the Arlington Family Practice.

"The health center is at the point where they have put in their application for a conditional use permit," Squires said. "The change in the application is they recognize and have been told by the rescue squad that the rescue squad is not interested in the space."

In the original site plan submitted to the select board, as well as the planning commission, the Arlington Rescue Squad would have a building in the front of the property with parking behind, followed by the location of the health center. Now, Squires said, the medical building will move closer to the road and the parking will be placed behind it.

Squires said to move the application forward, the select board needs to sign off on the plans. Their signature is required because the town of Arlington is the landowner. However, a new site plan has yet to be submitted to the board.

Browning said she would not be comfortable signing off on something she has not yet seen.

"I'm not comfortable with authorizing these designs of a plan in the name of the town of Arlington," she said.

There is an issue getting a quorum on the Planning Commission, so she said she would like to discuss this with the commission's chairman, to see if she should recuse herself. However, she said even if she were not on the other boards, she would not be comfortable authorizing signatures for town property concerning plans she has not yet seen.

"What this opens up is the possibility that Reggie [Reginald Jennings, select board and ZBA member] and I can't vote on this at the ZBA in which we may not be able to have a quorum and not be able to vote on [the site plan]," she said.

Taking these concerns into consideration, the board decided to wait and sign off on the plan until their Aug. 11 meeting. This would still allow the application to be presented in front of the planning commission meeting on Aug. 28.

In other news, the board adopted a resolution in support of the application for a village designation. Michael Batcher, a regional planner with the Bennington County Regional Commission, said as a part of updating the town plan, the planning commission decided to include applying for this designation in the plan.

"You might think of the Village of Arlington as a certain area, they're focusing on what they call the center of that," he said. "It encompasses that area that seems to make sense from a mixture of commercial uses, walkability, areas that seem to hold together from that perspective. So it may not have a lot of residential areas."

This designation was added in the town plan after some new state requirements about economic development were put in place, Batcher said.

If the designation is awarded, an area in the center of the village of Arlington will be given preference for some types of state grants, as well some tax breaks and grants available for local businesses, he said.


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