Real estate taxes survey
To the Editor:
Interesting columns Bill Doyle is publishing. Notably are his statements from his survey distributed to liberal towns in reference to real estate taxes. It's interesting that Doyle highlights these taxes where folks state -- they're too high. Doyle was a member of the Senate pre-Act 60 hearings. The testimony he heard directed him NOT to pass Act 60. My wife and/or I attended every hearing. At each hearing we testified using different state collected data proving real estate taxes were unconstitutional (Vermont Supreme Court decision) and valuation couldn't be determined ahead of an arms length sale. The so-called Almay report ($60,000) confirmed that Listers couldn't appraise accurately. Since then we've learned computer-aided valuation are inaccurate (Montpelier), professional appraisers fail (Waterbury/Ctr.) and applying existing sales (Morrisville) fails to appraise accurately. The state's data alone should've stopped passage. That aside Vermonters directed -- through their testimony -- the taxes would be used for things other than schools (came to fruition); southern Vermonters testified they'd sent a letter to President Clinton about taxes/low wages and northern Vermonters testified taxes would prevent them from leaving a land legacy to heirs -- to name a few reasons witnesses directed the committee not to pass Act 60 -- a bill not yet even written. A ski area owner brought charts and grafts but was quietly informed he need not worry. Mainer informed the committee same bill didn't last because it was detrimental, it pitted neighbor against neighbor.
Peter Shumlin, a member (bored -- wouldn't look at evidence and kept his arms crossed most of the time) of this committee, apparently realized he could increase his wealth by passing it. Dick Sears, Mark MacDonald, Richard McCormack and Cheryl Rivers (chair -- only one blamed passage) all heard the same thing ... we direct you NOT to pass Act 60.
The committee said -- Let them eat cake! Interesting that Doyle cares now -- when there's talk of yet another new tax plan. The first part being re-appraisals to increase taxes on those receiving pre/re-bates because the Legislators hid who receives the welfare.
William Brueckner, Sr.