SGA looks at tax break for FSL

Zoe Stern, Cynic News Reporter

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The vice president of SGA and an SGA senator are exploring the possibility of returning fraternities and sororities back to property tax-exemption status in Vermont.

The state bill which overturned their tax exemption status was passed in 2014 and took effect January 2017, according to the bill.

Before being removed from the tax-exemption list, fraternity and sorority houses were tax free for more than 100 years, according to an October 2015 Cynic article.
Juniors SGA Vice President Owen Doherty and SGA senator Aidan Doherty are exploring bringing back tax exemptions for UVM FSL.

Alpha Gamma Rho, one of the largest single property lots in Burlington, pays almost an estimated $30,000 in taxes, which are paid by student fraternity dues, Aidan Doherty said.

Both Owen and Aidan Doherty are in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and say working on the resolution is not a conflict of interest.

“We are elected to represent students and for our own views and experiences, including what organizations we are members of,” Owen Doherty said. “My fraternity does not own a home and this tax has never and likely will never affect myself or any organizations I am apart of.”

When asked about what the resolution will do, Owen Doherty stated there is no current resolution in the works.

“This project is still in the beginning stages and right now we are just gathering information and details, so the scope is still being defined,” Owen Doherty said.

The cost of property taxes for all FSL houses combined is an estimated $350,576, according to a February 2016 Cynic article.

The taxes coming from these properties is not a significant amount for the state, Owen Doherty said.

“The total amount of property tax that these houses are paying contributes like 0.06% of the Vermont state budget on total taxes they’re taking in,” Owen Doherty said.

The thought process for state officials was that Vermont doesn’t have a vibrant FSL community, Adian Doherty said.

Legislators didn’t feel the need to allow for a tax break with such a small population in Vermont.
Making sure students have clean and affordable housing is one of the reasons why SGA is promoting the new resolution, Adian Doherty said.

“The school already recognizes them as safe alternatives,” he said.