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Governor’s Budget Maintains Level Funding for Downtown Tax Credits, Cuts Funding for Housing and Conservation

Governor Douglas’ proposed budget included luke-warm support for downtowns, and bad news for affordable housing and land conservation in Vermont.
The Downtown tax credit program was level-funded at $1.6 million. Smart Growth Vermont, together with Preservation Trust of Vermont, worked to have the amount available for tax credits increased from $1.5 to $1.6 million last year. We are currently urging the Legislature to further increase the amount of tax credits available to help landowners in downtowns and village centers to make life-safety improvements and facade improvements to historic structures. This popular program has helped leverage millions of dollars of private investment into our town centers, resulting in new economic opportunity and the creation of scores of housing units.
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) did not fare as well as downtowns in the Governor’s proposed budget. VHCB, the state’s twenty year old program to build affordable housing and conserve productive farmland and natural areas, has been recognized by Smart Growth Vermont and the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a model for smart growth policy. The Governor proposes to cut $5.2 million from the program, jeopardizing several conservation and housing projects currently in the planning stages, and calling into question the long-term viability of this important program. Several organizations, including Smart Growth Vermont, are urging the Legislature to continue to support this critical program.