Tax Capacity and Effort
WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT
The Tax Capacity/Effort chart uses the assessed property value for the whole state, divided by the statewide capacity and multiplied by 100. The tax rate is similarly aggregated, divided by the state tax rate and multiplied by 100. This shows how much a municipality can or could tax its local properties compared with how much it does tax the local properties.
WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR
You will notice that municipalities with large capacities tend to make the smallest efforts. Conversely, the municipalities with least capacity tend to make the largest efforts.
A good way of thinking about both tax-related charts is to imagine what it would mean if the bars representing the Effort – in the latter chart – were all the same. Imagine moving that Effort bar to 100, which is what the above mathematical manipulation does in order to plot the districts on either side of that equalized 100 mark. If the Effort were identical among the districts and the Capacity were as it is currently, the tax rates on the other chart would have to shift so that all municipalities, rich and poor, were making the same financial effort relative to their capacity. (This is essentially what Act 60 in Vermont does by redistributing tax dollars collected from wealthier communities to poorer communities.)
Also, bear in mind that even though the state pays a large share of the poorer districts’ school bills, the urban tax rates, which are the highest in the state, serve to fill only some of the gap. The poorer districts still have most of the largest class sizes in the state, more buildings in serious disrepair, and more students with the highest need for support services.