Efforts to adopt a tri-town local option tax (LOT) by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston advanced this week when the select boards of Warren and Waitsfield approved going forward with negotiations on the terms of the MOU.
The Fayston Select Board will take up the issue next week at its April 30 meeting.
On April 22, the Waitsfield Select Board voted 3-2 approving a motion for the town to negotiate the terms of the MOU with Warren and Fayston and appointed two board members, Darryl Forrest and Kellee Mazer, to the negotiating committee.
The Warren Select Board voted 5-0 for the town to enter negotiations with its neighbors to craft an MOU that will create a local option tax. Warren will appoint its members of the negotiating team at its next meeting in May. Should the towns successfully negotiate an MOU to adopt an LOT, it will have to be approved by Australian ballot in all three towns. A Town Meeting 2020 vote is anticipated.
This week’s action by two of the three member towns in the Mad River Valley Planning District follows over a year of work by a subcommittee of the planning district tasked with determining how a three-town 1 percent LOT on rooms, meals, alcohol and retail sales could be structured and administered and, ultimately, passed by voters in all three towns.
Such a tax would raise approximately $1 million, of which $700,000 would be retained by the local towns to use for community development, including housing, transportation, recreation and destination marketing. It is possible, depending on the outcome of legislation currently proposed at the state, that the amount of funds that would pass through to the towns would be $900,000.
The funds would be collected by each town and remitted to an LOT commission made up of two people appointed by the select boards of each town. Those commissioners would receive grant applications, deliberate publicly and award funds based on specific guidelines.
The LOT subcommittee last month proposed adopting a tri-town LOT by MOU after exploring whether the three towns could adopt a charter change for the planning district – which proved to be legislatively and legally problematic. Additionally, the group, after receiving some pushback from Waitsfield about whether a planning district charter would result in some usurpation of the town’s sovereign authority, explored and proposed the MOU model.
After the Fayston Select Board discusses the issue next week, negotiations between appointees of the three select boards on the specifics of the MOU will begin shortly.