Diossa: Let's lower CF's residential tax rate for first time in decade

Diossa: Let's lower CF's residential tax rate for first time in decade

CENTRAL FALLS – Mayor James Diossa Thursday proposed a Fiscal Year 2017 budget for the city that would lower the residential property tax rate for the first time in a decade. The residential rate, now at $27.63, will be brought down to $26.69, a 3.4 percent decrease.

“I know how difficult it’s been for the residents of Central Falls to absorb tax increases year after year,” said Diossa. “That’s why after years of sacrifice and getting our city’s fiscal house back in order, I am so pleased to be able to propose a budget that will lower the residential tax rate for the first time in a decade. Our homeowners deserve this muchneeded tax relief.”

In addition to lowering the residential rate, the budget calls for increasing the homestead exemption by 15 percent, increasing the senior citizen homeowner tax exemption by 25 percent, and increasing the veterans’ exemption by 25 percent.

To encourage economic development and provide predictability for local business, the budget calls for freezing the city’s commercial tax rate and tangible tax.

The budget also makes several key investments in after school programming, infrastructure improvements, public safety, and in the Central Falls Redevelopment Agency.

Overall, the proposed budget "does more with less" at 1 percent less than last year’s budget, according to a release.

The 2017 budget is the last under a court approved five-year bankruptcy plan. The plan called for maximum 4 percent residential property tax increase in each year. However, due to the city’s post-bankruptcy record of fiscal responsibility, Leonard Morganis, the city's administration and finance officer charged by the court with monitoring implementation of the 5-year bankruptcy plan, approved the proposed lowering of the residential rate.

Budget Highlights:

Tax Rates and Exemptions
• 3.4 percent residential property tax decrease
• 15 percent increase in homestead tax exemption
• 25 percent increase in senior property tax exemption
• 25 percent increase in veteran tax exemption
• Commercial tax rate freeze
• Tangible tax rate freeze

Fiscal Responsibility
• FY 2017 budget spends 1 percent less than previous budget
• 107 percent of annual required contribution to Central Falls pension plan
• $100,000 contribution to future Other Post Employment Benefits liability

Youth Investments
• Increased after school programming
• Summer midnight basketball league
• Renovated space for the Innovation Lab in partnership with the Central Falls School District and Rhode Island College

Economic Development
• $100,000 for Dexter and Broad Street commercial corridor façade improvements
• $600,000 for Central Falls Redevelopment Agency

Infrastructure
• $200,000 for roadwork improvements
• $200,000 for sidewalk repair and replacement
• Conversion of city’s street lights to efficient LED technology
• Improvements at Illinois Street Park and other parks and recreational areas

Public Safety
• Federal grant funding for four recently hired new firefighters
• New school resource officer at Calcutt Middle School