To the editor: Vermont Timber Works rebuilding, but state makes it more expensive

Vermont Timber Works is excited to announce that just 3½ months after a fire devastated the business, the walls and roof are going up on its new facility, located on the existing property at 16 Fairbanks Road in North Springfield.

Vermont Timber Works is rebuilding after devastating fire.

A team of building professionals including Artisan Engineering, Bonin Architects, Record Concrete, LaValley’s Building Supply, Louis Baker Construction, Lawrence & Lobar Electricians, Jeffers Plumbing, Southern Vermont Sprinkler and Vermont Timber Works are all working together to make it happen in record time.

The Springfield office of the Department of Labor and Industry has turned VTW’s permits around quickly to keep the accelerated building schedule on track.

The facility will be ready to use by midyear and VTW will be back to normal operations at its old location.

In the meantime, the Winstanley building at 36 Precision Drive in North Springfield is VTW’s temporary home. Most of Vermont Timber Works’ business is out-of-state, building churches, barns and welcome centers around the country. VTW is proud to bring jobs and tax revenue to the state and has done so since 1987.

The story is not all roses though. The Vermont Tax Department is profiting big time from VTW’s loss.

To rebuild, the state of Vermont is charging VTW $12,000 in permit fees. $5,000 has been paid to register the trucks that were lost in the fire because they were destroyed and were worthless, therefore they couldn’t be traded in.  $36,000 in Use Tax needs to be paid to replace the $600,000 of equipment that was lost in the fire. Plus, approximately $30,000 in Use Tax will be due on the building materials to rebuild the building.

The total taxes and fees that Vermont is collecting on VTW’s loss is over $83,000 — all to replace what was already there, and none of which would be due except for the fire. In fact, all of those taxes had previously been accessed and paid on the building and equipment that was lost. Because of the fire and VTW’s loss, Vermont is getting to collect the revenue twice.

Both of the owners attended the University of Vermont and raised their families in Vermont. But financially, they say it would be far better to move across the border to New Hampshire. At a time when the Vermont legislature and Gov. Phil Scott are considering giving incentives to employers with 100 people or more to stay in Vermont, they should remember the small businesses already in Vermont that are the backbone of the state. The governor and legislature should think about how those businesses can be helped and supported rather than taxed the most when they can afford it the least.

The silver lining is the out-pouring of support from first responders and the community to help VTW after the fire. The owners — Dan Kelleher and Doug Friant — can’t express their gratitude to the community deeply enough.

Doug Friant
Londonderry
CFO Vermont Timber Works Inc.

 

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  1. Irwin Kuperberg says:

    Just wondering, if you went to NH, MA, NY or anywhere else and had to buy the same number of trucks and materials and build a new building there, as you just had to tragically do, what fees and taxes would you incur there?

  2. Barre Pinske says:

    I am on their side and obviously we could and probably should have laws in place to reflect loss and replacement costs our State Reps need to get on that right away. Perhaps they could make a law retroactive for one year to help these folks out. But in really it is not really double tax for the same thing because insurance should have covered losses and technically these are new and different products as in the case of a truck for instance. They would not have needed a replacement but because of the fire they do and there is problem and the extra cost. Again this is a great reason to create legislation I hope they get it on fast track!

  3. David Waldmann says:

    They are exempt from paying sales/use tax on “Machinery and equipment used directly and exclusively in the manufacture, printing or publishing of tangible personal property for sale”. See https://tax.vermont.gov/sites/tax/files/documents/s-3m.pdf

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