Lombardi budget calls for 50-cent tax increase

Lombardi budget calls for 50-cent tax increase

Whole amount would come from increase to schools

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Mayor Charles Lombardi's $92.6 million budget proposal for the 2014-2015 fiscal year calls for a 50-cent tax hike for home and commercial property owners.

The 50-cent increase would be due to a proposed boost in revenue from the town of $634,000 to the North Providence School Department, an amount that is slightly less than half of the more than $1.3 million increase school officials are looking for.

The $1.3 million request is in addition to the $1.5 million more that the schools are tentatively set to get next year due to changes in Rhode Island's education funding formula under Gov. Lincoln Chafee's proposed budget.

"Although the School Department is justified in its request, I find it difficult justifying a tax increase of nearly one dollar during these difficult economic times," said Lombardi in his budget letter.

The town's current residential real estate tax rate is $24.29 per $1,000 of assessed value, and commercial real estate rate is $31.03 per $1,000.

"It's the best possible budget that we thought we could put together, being fair in addressing our educational needs and addressing what the taxpayers can afford," said Lombardi on Monday.

For the owner of a home valued at $200,000 after the current town-wide revaluation process is complete, the new tax bill, based on a tax rate of $24.79, would be $4,958, up $100 from the $4,858 he or she is currently paying.

But town officials will likely have to "equalize" the tax rate based on lower values for many properties, meaning the tax rate will likely be higher than $24.29 by the time the 50-cent hike kicks in. Whether a resident will end up paying more in taxes will depend on how much the value of their home went down as part of the 2013 revaluation of all properties.

Tangible and motor vehicle taxes would stay the same under Lombardi's proposal.

Lombardi's budget is by no means final, but simply kicks off a 2014 budget season that will run for the next several weeks. The Town Council will go through each line item of the budget and hold public hearings before taking a vote on a final budget, which would then be sent back to Lombardi for his signature.

A 50-cent tax increase, if finalized, would follow up an 11-cent increase in 2013 and no tax increase in 2012 or 2011.

The $1.5 million more to the schools through the education funding formula is to be used for staffing and contractual obligations, which includes medical coverage, said Finance Director Justin Cambio. The $634,000 extra from the town is meant to be used to enhance technology to enhance learning in the classrooms.

According to school officials, their original $1.3 million request was to be split evenly between curriculum and technology upgrades. It will be up to them what they do now, said Cambio, whether that means spending half of the $634,000 in each area or all in one area.

Lombardi's budget calls for about $43 million in spending on the town side of the ledger and about $49.5 million in spending on the school side. A "small increase" of about 1.75 percent on the town side, equaling about $800,000, will be paid for by increasing the town's estimates of how much tax money will be collected instead of taking it out of taxpayers' pockets, said Cambio.

"That was a conscious decision not to go to the taxpayer," he said. "By increasing the percentage in collections we're being extremely aggressive."

Though there would be an increase of about 4.5 percent to the schools, from $47.4 million to $49.5 million, the state pays for three-quarters of the total school budget, he said.

The town side of the budget, broken down, calls for $37 million in operational spending, $2.3 million toward the elimination of the town's deficit from four years ago, and $3.5 million toward debt service payments on borrowed money.

The entire public safety budget is going up by about $150,000 under Lombardi's proposal, or a 1 percent increase to nearly $16 million, a "pretty good" number given how safe the town is, said Cambio. The "lion's share" of spending increases are in public safety, the board of canvassers (with an election coming up), and on the cost of streetlights.

The last $2.3 million payment on the town's five-year deficit reduction bond will be due in July 2015, said Cambio. At that point town officials will have money cleared up for extras. Lombardi maintains that he wants to use some of the money on a road-repaving program and car tax relief.

"That's only 15 months away," said Cambio. "It's something to look forward to."

According to letters from the ratings agencies, the town has gone from a deficit of more than $10 million in 2009 to having reserves of $5.6 million, said Cambio, for a swing of $16 million in five years, or 20 percent of the town's entire fund balance.

Ratings agencies are recommending that for the town to continue on the right fiscal path, they should continue managing their debt appropriately, increase the reserve fund through annual surpluses, and continue to fund their annual contributions into the pension fund.

Comments

If you want to give the school department more money, then you take the money from your "surplus" or you make CUTS from another expenditure. You DO NOT raise taxes.
REVISE YOUR BUDGET MR MAYOR. SOMEONE BETTER BE LISTENING OUT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes the schools need the technology investment. The schools also need to reinvent themselves to serve the taxpayers and kids better. NP school district is rated at 22nd in the state, not a good return on any investment. Parents and taxpayers have to speak up to the school committee and district and demand better results, this would also support Melinda Smith, our new superintendent in her quest to turn the NP schools around.
The Mayor must want to buy another pumper or rescue vehicle for the fire dept like he did this year off budget. When will the administration understand that NP has 15 to 20% unemployed or under employed, cost of living has gone up 2 to 4% per year and taxpayers are making less. On top of that the state of RI is sinking in debt that will only trickle down to us. Where is the PLAN that looks 5, 10 or 20 years out? How can we realistically budget without a PLAN that shows the future expenditures like pensions, health care, infrastructure and the demise of RI economics? Giving anyone a raise in our town in today's economy is just plain stupid or greedy. Better let some of the gas out of your balloon Mr Mayor.

The Terror of Tiny Town strikes again.

By July 2015 I'll need a new car from driving on those crummy roads.

The mayor said we have a surplus?! But yet he's raising taxes again? This guy is a joke and needs to go! When will this town wake up?

It's not up to the town to vote him out. HE RAN UNOPPOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's not like we have a choice, do we?
This has become a dictatorship.

Once the town recalculates its tax rate North Providence will have one of the top 3 property tax rates in the state and what you get for your money is a joke. The continued need to raise the rate is the result of tons of supply (houses for sale) and no demand (people that want to move here). Raising the rate just pushes more and more people out until eventually North Providence becomes Woonsocket, Jr.

It is up to the town,someone here needs to stand up and run so the TOWN can vote him bye bye.

The people that post and complain about the 50 cent tax raise shouldn't. This Mayor has been taxing the people of NP to death since elected. From not raising the car tax exemption not even a measly $ 500.00. Give the tax payer some type of relief. Don't forget the 14 cent increase this year also. Promoted himself for 3 years with a surplus and raises your taxes 14 cents. Go figure.

Well count me out!!! One more resident of this state who is getting taxed out.Both my husband and I grew up in Rhode Island. I refinanced my home to a 15 year in North Providence 12 years ago, trying to do the right thing for me and my family. I have a good job and make good money. I spend within my budget, and have NO credit card bills. If this tax increase goes through I will no longer be able to afford my mortgage. I own a 2 family house with my sister, who lost her job last October. In the 12 years since I refinanced my mortgage has gone up $400 a month and now it will go up again. So what is the lesson here. Work hard, do the right thing, pay taxes, be a good citizen and they put a dollar sign on your back. I have been married 30 years and have no children, why do we have to pay for schools to get more money, you need to get your act together and only spend what you have. You need the money for teacher salaries and benefits, well My healthcare costs are going up too, and I work for Lifespan. Where do I go to get more money??? I am disgusted with all you people in power who only think of yourselves and how to get re elected. Thanks for making the decision to move to Florida that much easier. After reading the Breeze yesterday, I have already applied for two jobs, maybe the person who buys my house will have better luck. Thats if I can sell it with the third highest tax rate in the state. Thank you you selfish money hungry power grubbers.

Enough is enough !!! Luckily the FBI is in town, I hope they plan a 'visit' to North Providence ASAP. As a resident who is barely able to pay the current tax rate, what more does this corrupt town and it's "leaders" want from us? Few are able to update/repair their homes, the roads are a disgrace, too many empty businesses that once housed businesses that provided jobs, and the list goes on and on. For the taxes we currently pay, it is clear that they are NOT being spent on this town and are NOT being used to attract new businesses to the area. I regret ever buying a home in this town 2 decades ago. Our town looks like a dump in most areas and we are going to be in the top 3 highest tax rates in the state? How does this even make sense???? It doesn't, it is more of the same old same old corruption that has been going on for far to long. Again, I hope the FBI plans on making a trip to North Providence AGAIN, because something is very wrong here and it is time it was put to an end before we are all poor living in the streets.

Quite a few facts missing from the Mayors pr statement. His agenda seems quite clear, blame the school department for everything. Ethan with his bromance for the Mayor quickly glossed over the fact that the towns side of the budget has a large increase that will be paid for by looking under the cushions of the couch.
This is a very A very misleading article.

Change the charter, abolish the mayor position, an appointed town manager and all will be good my roads and schools look pretty good here in Lincoln.