Landmark tax payment to help lower residential bills

Landmark tax payment to help lower residential bills

WOONSOCKET - Hours before legislation passed authorizing the city to tax the state's first for-profit hospital, the Woonsocket Budget Commission revealed that Landmark Medical Center has agreed to pay Woonsocket more than $900,000 in taxes in 2015.

The California-based hospital chain Prime Healthcare Services purchased the facility on Dec. 1, 2013, and while hospital officials had indicated early on that they intended to contribute their share to the fiscally struggling city, it was unclear how much Landmark would pay.

State legislators led by Sen. Roger Picard aimed to ensure that state law made it clear the city had full authority to tax the new for-profit entity. A bill authorizing the tax passed through the House on Wednesday, June 18 and has been forwarded to Gov. Lincoln Chafee for signing.

Meanwhile, city officials have been negotiating a one-year pact with the hospital, and delivered the announcement that an agreement had been reached at the Budget Commission's meeting the same day. The hospital will pay more than $900,000 in 2015 with officials expected to go back to the bargaining table for the following fiscal year.

The positive news came just as the state-appointed board was set to vote on Woonsocket's 2015 spending plan, and the boost will lessen the fiscal burden on the city's residential and commercial taxpayers. Rates for residents - expected to go up by more than 5 percent according to a budget plan announce by the mayor just weeks ago - are now set to increase by just 3.9 percent. The commercial rate has increased less than half a percent this year, bumped only 18 cents per thousand.

The commission approved a total budget for the city of $131.6 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.