Taxpayers file lawsuit to block Woonsocket tax

Taxpayers file lawsuit to block Woonsocket tax

WOONSOCKET – Several taxpayers are moving forward with their threatened class action lawsuit to block the city from fully imposing a supplemental tax on city residents.

The gist of their claim, they say, is that the tax "is not in compliance with the legislation that originally authorized it."

A lawsuit was filed Thursday, Aug. 15 in Rhode Island Superior Court by taxpayer advocate attorney Robert Senville.

He notes in a statement that legislation approved by the General Assembly last spring authorized Woonsocket to issue a supplemental tax "contingent upon the city of Woonsocket's realization of a total amount of no less than $3.75 million in savings resulting from municipal enactment and concessions from collective bargaining agreements."

He says the lawsuit points out that "at least $2.9 million of the projected savings being claimed by the Budget Commission can be or is currently the subject of a legal challenge and that, therefore, it appears that these potential savings, which certainly have not been realized at this early date, may be at risk of never being realized as required by the state law."

Says Woonsocket taxpayer James Cournoyer, who is one of the named plaintiffs, "It is not complicated. The savings have not yet been realized; rather, they have only been projected. Thus, the supplemental tax should not yet be issued."

RI Taxpayers, formerly the RI Statewide Coalition, has partnered with the Woonsocket taxpayers group in the past, in particular, during the public outcry over the origins of the multi-million dollar school budget deficit two years ago.

RI Taxpayers spokesperson Monique Chartier said in a statement, "This is the right course of action for the already burdened taxpayers of Woonsocket. What makes it further troubling is the fact that this supplemental tax bill is not a one time increase, but now becomes the basis for an increased property tax rate going forward. The residents can’t absorb more taxes, period."