As a new resident of Londonderry, I want to be informed and be sure our local governing board is fully transparent and forthcoming about how major decisions are made in our village. This upcoming special vote (Oct. 20) is significant in that it will impact all residents directly both financially and otherwise. Here are the facts that most residents I believe are not aware of:
1. One proposal calls for a new additional 1% local sales tax on top of Vermont’s 6% tax (effectively a 17% increase in the sales tax). What is not clear is that this tax will apply not only to local sales in Londonderry but will apply to everything one buys online anywhere or anything that is subject to Vermont sales tax. That means, for example, everything you might buy on Amazon will be subject to this additional tax.
2. While the revenues from this tax are to go to the General Fund and then directed to reduce the property tax rate, it is not entirely clear that those revenues will be used exclusively to reduce property taxes. If those funds are ultimately used for anything else, this will just result in a tax increase and a larger annual expense budget. If those revenues, in fact, are used only for a reduction in the property tax rate, then it will be beneficial in reducing the tax burden to residents.
3. While the town desires the additional 1% tax revenues, it is not clearly disclosed that the State of Vermont will take 33% of those revenues as a fee and therefore leave the town with only two-thirds of 1% for new income. Thereby the state will be a significant beneficiary of this new local tax.
4. There is also a Cannabis proposal to allow retail sales of cannabis in Londonderry. The town will tax those sales the additional 1% local tax but only get two-thirds of 1% after the state takes their cut. Furthermore, the state will collect an additional excise tax on those sales, which along with their sales tax, will total 20%. Once again, a very good deal for the state.
5. Lastly, it is most important that the voting citizens of Londonderry be aware of these issues and be informed of what is proposed so that they can vote accordingly. I have recently spoken to over a dozen local residents and no one was aware of this upcoming vote. There needs to be a better way to inform the voting public of these important votes in order to get a meaningful and truly representative vote by local citizens or otherwise only a limited number of directly informed people will be determining how our town is being run and financed.