Home Commentary Scott’s Tax on Flood-Impacted Communities

Scott’s Tax on Flood-Impacted Communities

Photo by Bob Fitch, Courtesy of Montpelier Alive.
By Rep. Conor Casey, Washington 4, Montpelier

In July 2023, Vermont faced an unprecedented challenge as historic floods wreaked havoc on communities across the state. The aftermath has left my city, Montpelier, our neighbors in Barre, and numerous communities grappling with economic damages exceeding $300 million and city budgets in shambles. Governor Phil Scott’s 2025 budget fails to prioritize flood recovery, sending a clear message to flood-impacted communities — you’re on your own.

Undoubtedly, Vermonters showcased their resilience and camaraderie in the aftermath of the flood. Communities rallied together, proving the strength of our state’s spirit. However, Governor Scott’s reliance on charitable license plates and lemonade stand fundraisers as the path to recovery is not only misguided but also minimizes the severity of our recovery needs. It is time to move beyond rhetoric and address the urgent need for comprehensive and timely state funding.

The Governor’s budget proposal, while acknowledging the need for federal matching, falls short in providing immediate, flexible aid to individuals, municipalities, and businesses. This is particularly concerning given the uncertain climate in Washington, where even best-case scenarios entail months, if not years, to access the necessary funds. The people of Vermont cannot wait for bureaucratic processes; they need swift, decisive action.

The crux of the matter is this: by not investing substantially in flood recovery, Governor Scott is effectively imposing a tax on the very communities that bore the brunt of the disaster. Local tax dollars are being funneled into recovery efforts, despite the flooding being no fault of our own. As a result, essential services are on the chopping block, and communities are left to foot the bill for what should undeniably be a state responsibility.

Amid this challenging scenario, hope emerges from the Vermont Legislature. In her opening day address, Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski stated, “Vermonters are remarkably resilient in the face of adversity, but they are counting on us to take bold action. They are counting on us to pass legislation for the storms we have weathered and the ones yet to come.” 

The Senate recently passed a bill that alleviates municipalities tax abatements and the House included $15 million in the budget adjustment act, earmarked for municipal aid.

The Omnibus Flood Recovery Bill (H.723), introduced by my district mate Rep. Kate McCann and our Barre City colleagues Rep. Peter Anthony and Rep. Jonathan Williams makes $85 million of investments in flood mitigation and aid to municipalities, businesses, and individuals who have fallen through the cracks. These measures represent a crucial lifeline for communities struggling to recover. It’s a recognition that the burden of rebuilding cannot rest solely on the shoulders of local taxpayers. The state must step up to its responsibility, providing the necessary resources for swift recovery and rebuilding efforts.

It’s time to move beyond token gestures and commit to substantial investments that will truly make a difference in the lives of those affected by the flood.

Our communities deserve more than promises — they deserve action. In the coming weeks, as budget discussions unfold, I urge my fellow legislators to advocate for a comprehensive and compassionate approach to flood recovery. 

Let us stand united in ensuring that Vermont emerges stronger from this crisis, with resilient communities and a commitment to shared responsibility that extends from the local to the state level.

The material presented here represents the opinion of the author and does not reflect the opinions of The Bridge. Commentaries may be submitted to editor@montpelierbridge.com. Preference is given to submissions by those who live in central Vermont. Submissions are encouraged to be 500 to 750 words in length.