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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Town’s STD mailer: “This recent scare was a false alarm“

Unnecessary panic and confusion over Single Taxing District
By Rep. Donna Walsh
Charlestown taxpayers recently received an unwarranted scare when they received the June Special Edition of the town’s official newsletter, the Pipeline. Many readers of that mailer assumed a legislative change had been made, or is about to be made, to the Chariho Act that would increase Charlestown’s share of the Chariho budget by $14,469,425 and cause a property tax increase of over 50%.

As I told the many taxpayers who called, this is simply not true. Not only has no such legislation been passed, but no such legislation was even introduced to create a Single Taxing District for Chariho. I believe no such legislation will be introduced simply because of the long and cumbersome process involved in getting the General Assembly to even consider changes to the Chariho Act.

It is not true, as the Pipeline flyer implies, that changes such as a Single Taxing District could be imposed on Charlestown. In order to get the General Assembly to consider opening up the Chariho Act for changes, all three towns, including Charlestown, must agree and must send Town Council-approved resolutions to the General Assembly. The Chariho School Committee must concur.

If there is that consensus among the three towns and the Chariho School Committee, the General Assembly MAY decide to amend the Chariho Act, if the arguments are compelling and the state considers such changes to be in the interests of the state.

If a change to the Chariho Act is then approved by the General Assembly, it must go back to the towns for approval by the voters of all three towns.

Charlestown’s taxpayers do not need to worry about this single taxing district scare because no bill will be enacted unless Charlestown joins in consensus with the other two towns. No actual change to the Chariho Act can be put into place unless the voters of all three towns approve.

The idea of a single taxing district comes up every once in a while but never goes anywhere because of this system I described that gives any one town the right to veto any changes it does not like. This recent scare was a false alarm because no legislation to create a Chariho Single Taxing District was even introduced.

I will not support or introduce legislation that changes the operations of the Chariho School District unless it meets the essential requirement of consensus among the three towns and the School Committee. There is no value to introducing legislation that can be vetoed by any one of the three towns unless all the towns are in agreement.

I think many people only looked at the numbers in the Pipeline and the impact of “The Impact of A Single Taxing District” and were misled by vague language.

The creators of this Pipeline Special Edition did a disservice to our residents by presenting a scenario that not only did not happen, but is unlikely to ever happen. The sky is not falling.