Burlington to Consider Eliminating Tax on Business Property | Off Message

Burlington to Consider Eliminating Tax on Business Property


Burlington City Council - FILE: KATIE JICKLING
  • File: Katie Jickling
  • Burlington City Council
The city of Burlington will consider eliminating a tax on business owners that generates $1.2 million annually.

Dan Ukolowicz, who owns Simple Roots Brewing with his wife, Kara Pawlusiak, wrote a letter asking the city council and Mayor Miro Weinberger to rescind the tax because it unfairly burdens his company.

Ukolowicz, who started Simple Roots in his garage in 2014, said he pays $1,800 a year as part of the tax on his brewing equipment. The company has four part-time employees and operates out of the Ethan Allen shopping center in Burlington's New North End.

About 750 Burlington businesses pay the business personal property tax on assets such as equipment, according to the city website.

The Burlington City Council voted unanimously Monday to ask Mayor Miro Weinberger to examine the impact of eliminating the tariff. The resolution did not offer any suggestions for how the city could make up for the lost income.

Instead, it asks that the Weinberger administration report to the council by April on "the financial impact of eliminating the business personal property tax to the City and the impacted businesses."

Eliminating the tax would require approval by Burlington voters and the Vermont legislature, according to Weinberger. The earliest the city could make the change would be in 2019.

The tax can dissuade businesses from expanding or relocating to Burlington, said Kelly Devine, executive director of the Burlington Business Association. The tax "definitely is a disincentive to grow here and come here," and can be particularly burdensome for manufacturing companies that have lots of equipment, she said.

Justin Worthley, vice president of human resources at Burton Snowboards,
said he was "psyched" that the council would take up the issue. He called the tax "a relic."

"Very few municipalities in Vermont have a tax like this," he said. "It seems like it's time for it to go away."