Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 04-04-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 4-10, 2019 CUMBERLAND 17 $15.88 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to a $15.80 estimate last year. That 8 cents, for the owner of a home valued at $300,000, represents a $24 tax difference on the origi- nal projection. For those receiving new tax bills this spring, the overall annual increase for the owner of that $300,000 home is $138 based on a 46-cent increase on the current-year real estate tax rate of $15.42. The overall increase on the town's tax levy, or total amount to be col- lected in taxes, is 3.42 percent, exactly the same percentage as for- mer Mayor Bill Murray proposed a year ago, coming in under the state's 4 percent cap and meeting the town's cap as well. Because of Cumberland's unsyn- chronized tax system, tax rates are determined at the end of the fiscal year instead of at the beginning, add- ing a level of complexity. A $67 million tax levy proposal approved by the Town Council's finance subcommittee Tuesday and on the docket for the full council at its meeting Wednesday evening, April 3, comes in below both town and state tax cap limits, addressing the issue of the budget the council approved last year that exceeded both limits. The big-ticket item dropping the tax rate down was an agreement by school officials to go along with Mutter's request that the schools cover a master lease payment of $300,000. Former Mayor Bill Murray had agreed to cover that cost in addition to a separate increase to the schools. Finance Chairman Bob Shaw on Tuesday thanked School Committee Chairman Paul DiModica for the schools' willingness to help the town with its budget issues. "Small changes can make big dif- ferences" when it comes to bud- gets, said Finance Director Ray Chauvin, referring to the council's move last year to boost former Mayor Bill Murray's budget by about $350,000, an action that put the spending plan over both state and local caps. After the budget was revised (again, last year's projected tax rate of $15.80 was only a projec- tion), the levy ballooned to a 4.72 percent increase, exceeding the state's 4 percent cap and town's 3 percent cap on tax increases, at 3.36 percent. The residential real estate tax rate was projected at $15.94 at that 4.72 percent number. Officials Tuesday were unsure about why the situation wasn't made clear when the council was taking the vote, but all were in agreement that they simply want to address the situation and move the town for- ward. Shaw said the ultimate goal is to pass a levy that meets state and local law. He said the next budget, for the 2019-2020 year, should continue the progress that was made this spring by the Mutter administration. He said he hopes these changes make for easier discussions on the next budget. The Mutter administration was able to reduce taxes by the needed $355,000 to comply with state law and town ordinances. There were $140,000 in unbud- geted legal expenses, $75,000 in unplanned severance payments, $40,000 in unbudgeted tax anticipa- tion notes, and $100,000 in other/ miscellaneous expenses. The town also had a total revenue shortfall of $350,000, including $300,000 in lower school housing aid from the state and $50,000 in miscellaneous items, bringing the total in increased expenses and revenue shortfall to $705,000. But on the positive side, more than erasing that hole, expense reduc- tions and additional revenues totaled $760,000, or $300,000 in reduced expenses in police, legal and mis- cellaneous line items, $300,000 in revenue from a National Grid rebate (Mutter had at one point suggested putting this toward improvements at Diamond Hill Park), $100,000 more in rescue billing, and $60,000 more in investment income. The town needed a net reduc- tion of $55,000 in taxes to bring the expense reductions/revenue addi- tions of $760,000 down to meet the $705,000 revenue shortfall/expense increase. Mutter's levy worksheet relies on a 44.46 percent first-quarter tax collec- tion rate, a number based on audited collection percentages over the past five years. That projected levy for May and June, when the majority of taxes come in, is $30.3 million. Mutter reminded the council about why he was so opposed to last year's efforts to reduce the tax levy from 4 percent to .89 percent. A projected 72-cent increase was reduced to 21 cents, he said, "setting yourself up for a problem." The council could easily "jack that collection rate up as high as possible" this year and "knock the rate down 20 cents," he said, and "tout all sorts of fiscal prowess if you wanted to do so." He urged the council to resist the temptation, saying leaders should remain cognizant that the town is fac- ing an $83 million school bond and reminding them that rating agencies don't want to see a structural hole. TAX RATE From Page One MUTTER URI Master Gardeners at Cumberland Library April 10 CUMBERLAND – URI Master Gardeners Deb Brodie and Cheryl Kechichian will be at the Cumberland Public Library, 1464 Diamond Hill Road, on Wednesday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. to share how to nourish a garden while supporting one of the best pollinators, bees. Brodie has her own bee colony and Kechichian works in the health indus- try and specializes in making her own natural, pesticide-free sprays. Call, email or stop by the library to reserve a spot. For more information, visit or call 401-333-2552, ext. 2. Toastmasters Club to meet April 13 CUMBERLAND – The Saturday Brunch Bunch Toastmasters club will hold its next meeting Saturday, April 13, from 9:20 to 11:30 a.m. at the Cumberland Public Library, Hayden Center, 1464 Diamond Hill Road. The public is welcome. For more information, email or call 508- 293-1488. Consumers Propane 762-5461 BOUSQUET OIL 769-0146 139 HAMLET AVE. WOONSOCKET, RI 02895-0628 SERVICE – SALES – INSTALLATION OF GAS & OIL HEATING EQUIPMENT • Boilers • Furnaces • Hot Water Heaters WWW.CONSUMERSPROPANE.COM WE FILL GAS GRILL TANKS 9 Powder Hill Road (Off Rt. 123) Lincoln, RI 401-728-5903 Open Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m. VISIT OUR FACTORY OUTLET STORE! Looking to rent or for a Rental? Call Lisa 465-0547 Call us for a "FREE market analysis" Member Proudly serving Northern Rhode Island 300 Front St., Lincoln 724-8660 WWW.LAMONTAGNEREALESTATE.COM JUST LISTED SPRING SPECIAL WE'RE HERE FOR YOU All you have to do is give us a call! LINCOLN: 11 Brown Hill Court: Meticulous 3-4 bed Colonial in Saylesville. Central air, 2 full baths, a beautiful master bedroom w/skylights for plenty of light, hardwood floors, galley kitchen w/tile backsplash, granite counters fully equipped w/stainless steel appliances. Living room has beautiful hardwoods and a fireplace with built-ins, dining room runs off the kitchen, 1st floor has generous bedroom and another bedroom or office. Lower level is partially finished with a play room. House sits up and has wonderful water view with easy access to Lincoln Woods and all amenities. $369,900. 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