North Smithfield council sets real estate tax increase at 53 cents

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School Committee member Terri Bartimioli advocates for district funding.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – With a budget that fell just shy of fully funding the School Department’s requested allocation, the North Smithfield Town Council has approved a $53.2 million fiscal plan with a spending increase of roughly $1.8 million over last year.

Commercial ratepayers will make up the largest part of that burden, with a tax increase of $1.03 per thousand, while the tax on real estate will go up by 53 cents, putting rates at 20.432 and 14.774, respectively. For a residential home valued at the current town average of $430,000, the approved budget will result in a tax increase of $227 for the year.

The decision follows a budget process that saw some $136,000 cut from various departments, mostly in the area of hoped-for salary increases – in part to fund a school budget of $30.65 million. School officials were looking for an increase of some $529,000 from last year to fund their increasing costs including transportation and staffing, and after hours of debate, the council was on track to fall just $100,000 short.

School Committee member Terri Bartomioli said the department would have to cut a reading interventionist if the funding wasn’t found.

“As I listen to the budget, every department has its needs, and I don’t hear you saying what can you cut from other departments,” Bartimioli said.

“I think we’ve cut a lot,” responded Council President Kimberly Alves. “We try and do the best we can for the schools every year.”

“It’s not easy,” said Councilor Paulette Hamilton.

“This is static,” Hamilton said of the budget. “This is not looking ahead. It’s not planning and to be honest, that bothers me. We don’t have the ability at this time.”

“I think $100,000 in a $30 million budget is ok,” Hamilton added of the school allocation. “It’s the biggest department we have.”

Councilor John Beauregard suggested finding an additional $50,000.

“It’s not a lot of money we’re talking about,” Beauregard said. “If you want your property’s value to go up, then you want the quality of schools to go up.”

Councilors ultimately voted to fund the additional $50,000.

On Monday, July 1, Tax Assessor Jennifer George presented three potential options for how to fund the spending, with two alternative plans that would have resulted in a greater expense for homeowners. Due to a change in state law, tangible rates have been capped, with exemptions for businesses of taxes on $50,000 of value.

“I think these are all pretty fair options,” George said of the council’s choices. “Due to the new state law with the exemption of $50,000 for everyone, we’re going to get reimbursed from the state.

George noted that smaller businesses in town with home offices or minimal commercial property won’t really feel the increase. Plus, she added, “They’re kind of getting a little bit of relief on the business tangible side.”

The complete FY 2025 budget can be found here.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I like that the boogeymen in your tale are the town’s employees, must be Big DPW and Big Sewer calling the shots, pulling all the strings. They’re laughing all the way to the bank!

  2. An almost 4% residential tax increase is ridiculous. It is easy to spend but being fiscally responsible is difficult. So now taxpayers have to tight the spending belt while town employees enjoy a big fat raise. The budget could have been easily cut in the school department by $500,000 since the actual spending is always favorable by that amount but the school department cries wolf and the financially experienced town council falls for the lies. Just budget employee turnover at the proper level. Second the police department is out of control and spending needs and can be reduced. But lets make sure the town employees are paid more all at the expense of the taxpayers who receive reduced services every year. And can you imagine the tax increase if votes had approved the Taj Mahal police station and just wait for the senior center that will need $1M in funding to operate. Time for a change in November.

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