The town of Stowe has paid its employees despite a lack of work, and has pushed back the due date for taxes by a month.
The select board voted last week to postpone the due date for quarterly property tax payments from May 15 to June 15, easing pressure on property owners during the pandemic shutdown and loss of employment.
Town road crews have gone back to work, said Town Manager Charles Safford, now that Gov. Phil Scott has started to ease work restrictions last week. The town continued to pay its public works employees despite the work restrictions.
Immediate work will be limited — small crews doing spring maintenance and repairs needed after a flood in November. Safford said it’s the first of many “turns of the spigot,” as the governor put it, for a return to normalcy.
The board also approved a $5.5 million loan to be repaid once property taxes are paid. The loan is needed to pay $11,951,539 in state education taxes due June 1 and to keep the government funded in case there’s an uptick in property tax delinquencies or other unforeseen losses of revenue.
“It will require the town for the first time since I’ve been here to take out a tax anticipation loan,” Safford said. He’s been managing the town government for 13 years. The tax anticipation loan is actually a line of credit, with “no payment or interest unless we actually borrow money,” he said.
Towns used to take out tax-anticipation loans all the time back when their budget year followed the calendar, and they had to cover their costs until voters approved the town budget in March. Most have switched to a July-to-June fiscal year, so there’s no need to borrow money to keep operating until taxes are paid.
Stowe property owners are typically on time with payments, Safford said, but right now “they may need time to catch their breath.”
All automatic payments for property taxes will be moved to the June 15 due date, but Safford added, “If you can pay now, great; please do.”