Four dozen taxpayers gather to OK Glocester budget

Four dozen taxpayers gather to OK Glocester budget

Changes add 66 cents to residential rate

GLOCESTER - Voters at the annual financial town meeting Saturday approved a Fiscal Year 2015 budget of $27.7 million with few questions or comments, resulting in minimal increases to the town's four tax rates in the fiscal year starting July 1.

The $27.7 million municipal and education budget is $546,440 more than the current year sum, an increase of 2.01 percent.

New tax rates will be, according to the budget document, $21.90 for residential property, a 66-cent hike above the current $21.24 rate; $24.89 for commercial, a 75-cent increase; $24.37 for motor vehicles, the same as this year; and $43.60 for tangibles, $1.31 more than this year's rate.

Some 43 voters were in attendance at Ponaganset High School for the 1 p.m. session, more than the 25 registered voters required for a forum.

Kevin P. Walsh, moderator, led the meeting, and the budget was presented by David Steere, budget chairman. The meeting lasted about a half-hour with decisions made in all cases by voice votes without debate.

Town Council members were present, seated at the front of the auditorium along with Town Clerk Jean M. Fecteau, Finance Director Diane Brennan, Glocester Schools Supt. Pat Dubois, and in the non-voting section of the audience, Foster-Glocester Regional Supt. Michael Barnes.

The new budget provides $16 million for education, including $6.4 million for the town's elementary schools and $9.7 million for the regional school system. The latter figure is comprised of $8.5 million for operations and $1.2 million for debt service. Overall, the cost of education is expected to be $121,448 more than this year, a 0.76 percent increase.

The municipal side of the budget requires $6.3 million in the coming fiscal year, a 2.4 percent or $149,493 increase above this year. Public Safety and the Department of Public Works make up the lion's share of municipal expenses, $2 million and $1.8 million respectively.

Voters approved four special appropriations totaling $523,099: $90,000 as a "reserve" for a possible loss in state aid to Glocester schools; a $253,099 transfer from the unassigned fund to capital expenses; a $100,000 transfer from the unassigned fund to capital reserve; and $80,000 as a reserve for the "purchase/maintenance" of town recreation fields, the 22-page budget book says. These funds will be distributed at the discretion of the Town Council, officials said.

Revenue expected comes to $6.4 million, leaving $21.3 million to be raised by taxes. Steere pointed out that the largest single source of revenue other than taxes, approximately $2.2 million in payment of lieu of taxes, comes from FM Global. The international insurance giant has a 1,600-acre research campus in west Glocester. "We're very fortunate to have them in town," Steere said.

Voters also approved $761,977 in capital improvement projects, which include new wiring, an electrical assessment, and geo-thermal supplemental heat, all at Town Hall, for a total $72,000; an SUV patrol car, a building roof and a new phone system, all for the Police Department for a total of $77,000; road construction, the purchase of new/used trucks and equipment, and a transfer station upgrade, for a total of $613,000 in the Public Works Department.