The Mountain Times

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Senators introduce Irene stimulus legislation

S. 250, the Irene Economic Stimulus Bill, directs tax relief and incentives both to Vermont consumers as a whole, and to populations disproportionately impacted by the storm. Bill S. 250 would establish a sales tax holiday on Aug. 28, 2012, the 1-year anniversary of Irene, to encourage Vermonters to shop locally and support the state's economy. The proposal also sets up a weeklong sales tax holiday, from August 26 to September 1, for the purchase of home weatherization items.

Finally, it declares a sales tax holiday on mobile homes purchased between August 28, 2011 and June 30, 2012, to replace mobile homes damaged or destroyed as a result of Irene. The proposal would waive or refund sales tax or property transfer tax, either of which can be applicable to mobile home purchases.

"Vermont's recovery from Irene is an ongoing process," Lt. Governor Phil Scott said, "and this proposal offers several paths forward. It provides a savings on the materials needed for home repairs and an incentive for property owners to make their homes more energy-efficient. It also encourages Vermonters to mark the anniversary of Irene in a positive way, by supporting local merchants."

A "tax-free home improvement day" was one of the recommendations offered in the final report of the Post-Irene Property Law Task Force, which Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell organized to address the many issues facing homeowners after the flood.

"Irene hit us hard at a time when many Vermonters were already hard-hit by the recession," said Campbell, who led the charge in securing bi-partisan support for the proposal in the Senate. "My task force highlighted the fact that a lot of Vermont homeowners faced unexpected repair costs after the storm. This bill will help ease some of those burdens."

The tax relief provision for mobile home purchases was particularly important to Lt. Governor Scott, who organized a team this fall to help mobile home owners dismantle and dispose of their flood-damaged homes. "I didn't think it was fair that these folks had to pay taxes on a purchase they wouldn't otherwise have made, had they not lost their homes - and most of their possessions -- in the flood," Scott said.

Jim and Dan Fecteau, owners of Fecteau Homes in Berlin, agreed. "We worked with a lot of Central Vermont mobile home owners this fall. These families were overwhelmed with stress and loss, and it seemed like the property transfer tax bill added insult to injury," Jim Fecteau said.

The proposal was introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell; Senate Majority Leader Bill Carris and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Mazza; and Senate Minority Leader Bill Doyle and Assistant Minority Leader Kevin Mullin. The bill was originally conceived by Lt. Governor Phil Scott.

After its introduction today, S. 250 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Tagged: Irene, S. 250, Irene Economic Stimulus Bill