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Saturday, June 4, 2016

What's NOT in the Charlestown budget

Full time residents in Narragansett will get a tax break but not in Charlestown
By Will Collette

"I just love Charlestown where us summer people are treated like kings"
In 2011, Charlestown Democrats optimistically proposed a property tax reform that is pretty common in Rhode Island and elsewhere in the US, especially in municipalities with large percentages of part-time owners: the Homestead Tax Credit.

Charlestown, like other towns, already gives tax credits to veterans, the blind and disabled, low-income senior citizens, private owners of farms, woodland and open space, and to religious and non-profit groups.

So why not give a tax credit to those of us who make Charlestown our home? Well, that proposal for tax relief for Charlestown residents went down to crashing defeat in an event often referred to as “The Riot of the Rich.”

Scores of non-residents and supporters organized by the RI Statewide Coalition and its spawn the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party), stormed the Town Council chambers. They condemned the idea of making our summer beach front property owners pay a little more to give Charlestown working families a break as the worst thing since the Russian Revolution.

Soon to be $10.22 under the proposed budget up for a vote on Monday
All this despite the carefully researched presentation by the Charlestown Democrats showing that the concept was well-tested, compatible with Charlestown’s existing system of tax exemptions and actually very modest in cost.

The fact that most of the campaign funding for the Charlestown Citizens Alliance comes from non-residents may have had something to do with the CCA Party's violent reaction.

I started thinking about that awful experience as I looked carefully at Charlestown’s new budget which is coming up for a vote on Monday. 

It contains the eighth consecutive property tax rate hike, one in each year the CCA Party has controlled town government.

I also received the following news release that reported how the town of Narragansett, with demographics similar to Charlestown, is about to give its citizens a Homestead tax break. Enabling legislation by their state Representative Carol Hagan McEntee has passed the House and is heading for likely Senate approval.

Read this:

Rep. McEntee’s Narragansett homestead exemption bill passes House
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s legislation (2016-H 7127 SubA) that grants the Town Council of Narragansett the authority to adopt a homestead exemption ordinance was passed by the House of Representatives tonight.  The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“The year-round residents of Narragansett have been seeking the same treatment that other cities and towns afford their residents with homestead exemptions and I am pleased that this legislation finally grants those residents the tax relief they deserve,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).
The enabling legislation would grant the Narragansett Town Council the authority to adopt a homestead exemption ordinance, similar to those that have already been adopted in several other communities in the state.
The exemption would apply to home-owning taxpayers who actually reside at the taxable property. The bill would cap any exemption adopted by the town council at 10 percent. The council would be responsible for enacting any rules and regulations to govern the exemption.
So the Democratic Socialist Town of Narragansett has decided to join other Rhode Island municipalities in giving permanent residents a tax break.

Note that this enabling legislation caps the tax credit at 10%; the Charlestown Democrats' proposal that was beaten by the CCA only sought 7%.

It’s time to take a hard look at what eight years of domination of town government by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance has cost the working families of this town: a hometown version of corporate welfare for non-resident property owners. 

It doesn't work for Charlestown working families, and we all know how the CCA feels about them.

The No-Way Homestead Exemption proves it.