With local senators' supplemental tax bill passed May 9, the next step in the fate of the $2.5 million the Budget Commission intends to add to the tax base rests in the House tonight, a day past the deadline to send bills out in time.
The House Municipal Government Committee will hear the bill tonight at 5 p.m., but Budget Commissioner and Council President John Ward said the goal was to get the bill approved, then send out tax bills ahead of June 30. "Which means that the goal was to have it by yesterday. So We're already running late," Ward said.
The process, albeit with a smaller supplemental tax, is following a course similar to last year. This time, however, the companion bill, House 6103, is sponsored directly by Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt (D-Dist. 49), who ultimately opposed last year's bill.
Woonsocket's other two Representatives, Stephen Casey (D-Dist. 50) and Bob Phillips (D-Dist. 51) have also co-sponsored the bill.
Baldelli-Hunt's version raises the levy on motor vehicles and trailers by up to 18.7 percent and the residential rate, including 11 units or more, (excluding owner-occupied single family and owner-occupied condos), by 4.8 percent for the city’s fiscal year 2012-2013 only.
Senators Marc Cote (D-Dist 24) and Roger Picard's (D-Dist. 20) version takes a slightly different tack to raise the $2.5 million, increasing the motor vehicle and trailer levy by up to 12.7 percent and increasing the residential rate, including 11 units or more, by 4.6 percent for the city’s fiscal year 2012-2013 only.
The Senate version would also allow the city to create an elderly tax exemption, fixing the amount annually. No tax sale would be held prior to June 15, 2014, for failing to pay the supplemental tax under either bill.
If the House version passes, it will have to be reconciled with the Senate bill. Ward said it will be crucial to work the senior tax exemption language into the reconciled bill. Still, Ward said, that will take still more hearings and time to work out, and, "Time is not something we have a lot of," he said.
If Baldelli-Hunt's version doesn't pass, the House will have to consider the Senate version. If that doesn't pass either, the Budget Commission would either have to cut $5 million from the city budget, or call in a receiver, Ward said.
The House version is being heard today at the State House, Room 203, at 5 p.m.