Budget Calls For Tax Hike, But Not All Will Pay
An ongoing revaluation is expected to decrease property values, lowering the amount some residents will owe, while increasing the tax burden on others.
East Greenwich's tax rate would increase under Town Manager William Sequino's proposed fiscal 2013 budget, but that doesn't mean all residents will see a tax hike if the Town Council approves the spending plan.
Sequino released his proposed $50.5 million budget Monday, an increase of about $2.5 million over fiscal 2012. Nearly $36 million is dedicated to the school department, leaving about $14.5 million for town expenses, which includes the town's operating budget of $12.5 million and nearly $2 million in debt service.
The budget calls for a tax levy increase of 2.85 percent but many EG residents won't feel the tax hike, and some will even get a tax break. The town is in the midst of a revaluation, which Sequino estimates will reduce the overall value of the town's housing stock by 9 to 10 percent. Tax Asssessor Janice Peixinho expects to finish the revaluation within the next two weeks. Because of the reval, residents whose homes have a modest decrease in value will shoulder a greater burden than those whose property values plummet.
"The tax rate will go up, but some could see a decrease this year," Sequino said. "The tax dollars won't change, but who pays it may."
Should the revaluation expectations hold, the tax rate would increase by about 50 cents per thousand, an increase of about $200 a year on a $400,000 home. The rate hike would increase the town's revenue by about $800,000. The remaining $1.7 million budget increase would be made up through a mix of expected state aid, beverage and meals taxes, and Payments In Lieu of Taxes from such tax-exempt entities as New England Institute of Technology.
Under Sequino's budget, schools would see the largest departmental increase — nearly $500,000, less than the $874,000 the School Committee requested. The School budget also includes more than $5 million in debt service resulting from the $52 million school building bond that funded the construction of the new Cole Middle School, as well as improvements to Meadowbrook Farms Elementary and East Greenwich High School.
The Police Department would see an increase of $109,000 — helping pay for a school resource officer and preparing for retirements that will force the town to send new recruits to the state police academy — and the Public Works budget would increase by $82,000. All other departments are slated for modest increases or even decreases.
Sequino said he presented Town Council members with the budget Friday and has not heard any initial reaction, though he said he expects "the council would want it to be as low as possible." The council, which must approve the spending plan by May 15, ahead of the Financial Town Meeting scheduled for June 12, is expected to begin considering the plan during a public hearing on April 12 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.