Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 11-14-2019

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 | NOVEMBER 14-20, 2019 CUMBERLAND 15 homeowners' full property tax bill at the beginning of the year, leaving numerous escrow accounts short and causing the banks to hike monthly bills to make up for it. "The town did absolutely noth- ing different," Mutter told the Town Council last week, rebuffing social media assertions that municipal offi- cials somehow played a role in this. The motivation for the banks seems to be the town's unusual offer of a 2 percent discount on full pay- ments made in the first quarter, but many residents are stating that they'd rather have the payments continue to be spread out for budgeting pur- poses. They're also saying they were never notified by their banks of the change. Mutter said the town has been offering the 2 percent discount "for- ever," and town officials have "dou- ble, triple and quadruple-checked" their processes. "We had a lot of banks or mort- gage companies for some reason take advantage of the 2 percent discount," he said. "We can't get a solid answer on why it happened." The change is also throwing off an already unsynchro- nized town budget, he said. Though there were record- high tax collections in the first quarter, the next three quar- ters will show record lows. It throws the historical collec- tion percentage out of whack, he said, but more importantly damages household budgets. The town has also grilled its third- party vendor, CoreLogic, but has come up empty in the hunt for any changes made on the municipal side, said the mayor. He said his "gut sense" is that issues are being gener- ated at the bank level. Finance Director Ray Chauvin said what typically happens is for residents to have the option of a one- time payment or spreading a short- age over several months. Citizens Bank seems to be the bank at the top of the list for "changing the rules" on mortgage holders. Banks are sup- posed to talk to individual borrowers before they take steps such as this, he said. Though impacted residents are probably paying less overall, said Chauvin, they're being impacted sig- nificantly in the short-term. Collections for the first part of the year in Cumberland were up 4 or 5 percentage points, or between $4 million and $5 million. Though the town was the beneficiary of the early payments, Chauvin said, it creates some issues for municipal budgeting with an artificial surplus. Mutter said the town's tax levy percentage is thrown off dramati- cally, and officials are in discussions about how to synchronize everything without having to do significant bor- rowing. If the town does its budget projecting that this will happen again next year, and it doesn't, there will be significant problems, he said. The only other community in Rhode Island to offer the early pay- ment discount is East Providence, according to Mutter. Officials say they believe more residents are experiencing this issue because lending institutions such as Citizens and Cenlar are buying up mortgages. In numerous online discussions about this issue, residents seem to be in agreement that mortgage holders with local banks and credit unions are not experiencing the same kind of problem. MUTTER MORTGAGE From Page One Visitors welcome to free Rotary event Monday CUMBERLAND – The internation- al Rotary Club is all about "Service Above Self," and next Monday, Nov. 18, the Rotary Club of Cumberland- Lincoln opens its doors to any and all who would like to learn more. This informal social gathering – with no obligation – will be held at Angelo's Palace Pizza and Restaurant, 133 Mendon Road, beginning at 5:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend. If you have ever wondered what Rotary does and how it impacts the local community, stop by and join the club for food and drink. Rotary is made up of your neighbors who wish to give back to the community and help those in need. The club normally meets at lunch- time, twice a month, on Mondays at Amica Insurance, Building 100, Lincoln. Lunch begins at noon, and most meetings end by 1:15 p.m. The club does not meet Monday holidays. The club is looking for a few good people to join. New ideas are wel- come. To learn more, contact club President Dennis Burns at south- . Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to:, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865.

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