Manchester Village Board of Trustees hears complaints on tax rate

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MANCHESTER — Residents concerned by the 35 percent increase in property taxes assessed by the Manchester Village Board of Trustees for fiscal 2019 made their voices heard at the Trustees' meeting on Monday afternoon at the old county courthouse.

While no changes were made to the budget, there were explanations given by the five-member board about the reasons taxes went up sharply.

Board president Brian Knight, responding to the criticism, said the main reason for the hike was a pair of street projects that had to be done this year. The board had put off those projects for years in the interest of putting off a tax hike, he said, but the work could not longer be delayed.

"For three years we pushed it forward, and we finally ran out of time," he said. "The goal is not to increase taxes, but we couldn't delay it any more."

Board members also pointed out that the budget process is conducted in public, and that meetings are posted at its offices and on the village website.

In July, at the village annual meeting, voters passed a budget of $746,813 for FY 2019, an increase of $115,000 over the previous year's spending plan. With $633,813 of that sum to be raised by taxes, the Board of Trustees signed off on a tax rate of 0.1970 cents per $100 of valuation, representing a rate increase of 0.052 cents, or 35.8 percent, from the FY 2018 tax rate of 0.1450. About 10 voters attended that meeting, and the budget passed by voice vote.

The village's property tax payments were due on Friday.

In other business, board members told residents of the Village Glen subdivision, off West Road, that the village would need a formal request from the neighborhood's homeowners association before it could consider a request to take over plowing Village Glen Road. The question of who actually owns the road would have to be answered, Knight said, and the Village would need a clear understanding of expectations before committing to the task.

The question of ownership doesn't preclude the Village taking on the responsibility, Knight said, "but it would be a first. "

In the past, the Village has not plowed similar private rights of way, just as it does not handle trash or leaf removal; usually, property owners or homeowners associations have paid the cost of those services.

There are about a dozen homes in the Village Glen development, which is off West Road.

Louise Rivieccio, who manages Equinox on the Battenkill, asked if it was possible if it could request plowing as well. The Village would look at such a request the same way it would look at the Village Glen request, Knight said. But he cautioned that the Village has limited resources, and a highway department of just two people to handle such requests.


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