CLARKSBURG -- Town officials plan to start cracking down on residents who evade excise taxes by registering their vehicles in Vermont.
Town Administrator Carl McKinney said Thursday that the town of 1,702 on the Vermont border is potentially losing thousands of dollars every year.
"We've had repeated complaints by residents that there are cars registered in Vermont," he said. "And it's for the sole purpose for not paying excise tax."
Officials are referring residents to the Registry of Motor Vehicles' I-PAY-TAX form. The form, available at town hall, is meant to be submitted to the state anonymously and asks for the vehicle plate number, description and location of the vehicle, and state it's registered in.
McKinney was unsure how many vehicles of Clarksburg residents are registered out of state. But he pointed to the town's limited tax base -- some $880,000 in property taxes are raised every year.
"It's a tough economic time," he said. "But we need everything we can get. And things need to be fair."
McKinney, a longtime selectman who stepped into the administrator post four weeks ago, said he is also focusing on the town's failing infrastructure.
Selectmen have approved a $2,200 pavement management study that will take inventory of the town's 15 miles of roads and prioritize where to invest its limited funds, he said.
McKinney said he has also completed a draft version of a $921,000 MassWorks grant for work on West Cross Road.
"That road is used more often than people realize," he said.
The town's senior center, elementary school, and DPW building are all served by the road and a recent traffic study showed a peak of 1,938 cars per day.
Dubbed the Cross Town Corridor Project, the grant requests funds to reconstruct the road, replace 12 culverts in poor condition, create a handicap accessible entrance to the town field, and make the roadway safer for pedestrians and cyclists, McKinney said.
Also in the works is a fix on the Gates Avenue culvert. Initial estimates last year called for a slip-line culvert costing some $114,000, McKinney said, but the state Department of Environmental Protection's requirement for a temporary bridge and open-bottom culvert pushed the cost to $650,000.
"We don't have that much money," he said. "And I would feel uncomfortable with borrowing that."
McKinney said an easement on an adjacent property owned by Michael Milazzo would allow the dead end street serving just a handful of homes to be completely closed during construction and eliminate the need for a temporary bridge. The estimate for that project is $200,000, he said.
Those discussions are ongoing, McKinney said.
"We're going to want input from the community," he said.
To reach Edward Damon:
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