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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Charlestown Tax Rate Will Rise

Updated - from his vacation in a secret location, my colleague Tom Ferrio (via dial-up!) RE-SET the Progressive Charlestown Magic Tax Calculator to the new tax rate of $8.95. Plug in your old property value and your new number after re-assessment and see how this affects your taxes.

On March 28th, the town Budget Commission presented a new $25 million budget to the Town Council. As we predicted, the tax rate will go up from the present $7.48 per $1000 of valuation to $8.74 just to make up for the decline in property values.

My colleague Tom Ferrio's prediction of $8.75/$1000 was off by a penny. BUT another 21 cent rate hike - for a total of $8.95 - will be tacked on to cover increased costs, including anticipated - and long overdue - raises for town workers who have not had a raise in several years. .

As we've reported, assessments on high-end, million-dollar-plus properties were reduced much more than middle-range properties. The burden of the new tax rates will hit middle-class residents while most millionaire property owners - many of them non-residents - will get a major decrease in their taxes. For example, CCA President and Stuart, Florida resident Kallie Jurgens will still get a reduction of $568 in her taxes under the $8.95 rate. We'll be sure to remind you of that when the new tax bills get mailed out (and maybe a few other times, too).

The budget plan, including the new tax rate hike, was presented to the Town Council by former Town Administrator Richard Sartor, now budget commission chair. Sartor is a central figure in the complaint filed on March 11 by Town Council member Lisa DiBello against the town and 10 present and former town officials with the RI Human Rights Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Two sad notes from the Monday Council meeting:
  • Town Clerk Jodi Lacroix is retiring after 25 years of outstanding service to Charlestown and moving with her husband to Chattanooga, Tennessee. She received a standing ovation from everyone in the audience and on the Town Council, except Lisa DiBello. Class act, Lisa.
  •  Ninigret Wind Turbine project is dead. Due to the town's incredibly backwards attitude and the March 14 ordinance effectively banning wind power in Charlestown, this project is dead. The Washington County Regional Planning Commission gave back the $750,000 grant they had received for a cooperative project with the town for two wind turbines at Ninigret Park. The power from these turbines was going to be used by the town. So thank you, Ill Wind RI and Ruth Platner, Charlestown Planning Commissar, for the lost energy savings.
 Author: Will Collette