News Releases

January 27, 2012

Senate Leaders Introduce Irene Stimulus Bill

A bipartisan group of Senate leaders introduced legislation today to provide economic relief for Vermonters impacted by Tropical Storm Irene.

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. It would establish a sales tax holiday on August 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.

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

“Vermont’s recovery from Irene is an ongoing process,” 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 Senator 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.”

Gordon Winters, owner of Swanton Lumber, joined the Senators this morning in their announcement of the bill. “My customers really appreciate sales tax holidays and look forward to these opportunities to save,” he said. “This bill means a lot to Vermont homeowners, particularly those facing large-scale home repairs to address flood damage. It also means a lot to small business owners like me, who hope to see a bump in sales from this initiative.”

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.

Shaun Gilpin, director of the Mobile Home Project at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, reiterated that mobile home owners tend to be among the state’s most vulnerable. “A lot of these folks are seniors or low-income families without a lot of savings. This sales tax holiday will mean a lot to them, especially since they’re faced with the prospect of having to replace almost all of their possessions.”

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

Source: Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Last Updated at: January 27, 2012 09:46:38