Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 03-26-2020

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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8 CUMBERLAND MARCH 26-APRIL 1, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION 8 CUMBERLAND – The town saw just under 600 tax assessment appeals to Vision Government Solutions, and the company is now working on any corrections that may need to be made, said Tax Assessor Ken Mallette on Tuesday. "We handled some 50 appeals that required site visits," he said. If a taxpayer feels their value is not market value, they have the right to appeal to the tax assessor once they receive their bill. That appeal period will open to taxpayers for 90 days after the first quarter's due date, or until Aug. 31. Mallette will render a decision within 45 days and taxpayers would have 30 days to appeal to the Tax Board of Review if they remain unsatisfied. "After they receive their decision from the Tax Board of Review, they have 30 days to file in Superior Court if they are not satisfied," he said. Asked if the town might post- pone any tax deadlines or tax sales, Mallette said Mayor Jeff Mutter and his team are looking at what may need to be extended, "but no final decisions have been made at this point. But we are exploring the town's options." The nearly 600 appeals repre- sent nearly 5 percent of the town's 13,000 taxpayers, higher than the 500 or so appeals officials were expecting a few days before last Friday's deadline. Nearly 600 taxpayers appeal assessments By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland School Committee decided Tuesday to temporarily table its vote on next year's budget as the coronavirus forces schools to close for an indefinite amount of time. Before the meeting, which was done online and was accessible by phone or computer, Chairman Paul DiModica told The Breeze that the School Department would ask the town for a 4 percent increase of $1.8 million to level-fund the dis- trict, and that some jobs would still be on the line. Supt. Bob Mitchell said that based on conversations with Mayor Jeff Mutter, they may need to adjust the timeline for the budget. He said the coronavirus has impact- ed revenue on the town, school and state levels. School officials in early March discussed the budget shortfall the district faced going into next year even before the coronavirus shut schools down. Even if the school district receives the $1.8 million from the town, there could be substantial cuts. "At this time we don't know how much we're going to get from the town and we may not know for a while," Mitchell said. "We are beginning to have conversations about cuts we'd have to make if we don't get the $1.8 million." Anything less than $1.8 million would result in additional cuts, he said. "It would be prudent for us to get a better feel for how much we're going to get from the town before we really start to create additional concern by making additional cuts at this time," Mitchell told the com- mittee. DiModica agreed that the com- mittee should wait until the mayor and Town Council have given a definitive number before cutting anything. The deadline to announce layoffs for next year is June 1. "I'd hate to have a bloodbath like we did last year laying off the people we did and leaving people scrambling," DiModica said. With anxiety levels already high, Mitchell said he doesn't want to add to the stress. "People are already fearful about what the future holds, concerned about generating income, pay- ing their bills, getting sick … The thought of adding to that by consid- ering we may need to make some layoffs to balance the budget, I just don't know that this is the time to do it," he said. "This is a difficult enough time. To have people wor- rying also about whether or not they'll have a job is really piling it on." While no votes were taken in executive session, the committee spoke privately about teacher con- tracts. DiModica told The Breeze than an informal meeting was held previ- ously with teacher union leadership about delaying next year's 2 per- cent raise for an $800,000 savings. "The money would have been paid out in the next couple of years with interest," DiModica said. Even with the delay in raises there would have been some reduc- tion in staffing and changes to pro- gramming in the district, he said, as the district is facing cuts from the state. No vote was taken Tuesday on whether Durham School Services should be paid for the remainder of the school year despite not provid- ing busing services. Other commu- nities have taken varied approaches to the issue. Hoping to limit stress, school officials hold off on budget By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze STaff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com 820 Cumberland Hill Rd. 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