Budget Commission Sends Homestead Reduction - Car Tax Combo To General Assembly

One-time vehicle tax will raise $500K, Homestead drop will raise $2 million.


The Woonsocket Budget Commission voted yesterday to add $2.5 million to this year's tax levy with a one-time supplemental tax bill on vehicles at about 6.2 percent of 2012's bill and shrinking the Homestead Exemption permanently to 29.9 percent.

The Commission voted to approve the new tax bills at about 4 p.m. in Harris Hall at City Hall.

State law doesn't allow the city to keep the vehicle tax that high perpetually, so subsequent years will raise the entire extra $2.5 million annually needed to balance the city's books entirely from lowering the Homestead Exemption, this time to 27.5 percent.

The move is a combination of elements of several options outlined by Tax Assessor Chris Celeste during the last Budget Commission meeting, tweaking the homestead reduction from option B3 and the car excise tax idea from option A2.

Supplemental tax bills sent this year will be between 6 and 6.5 percent of last year's bill for vehicle taxes. Celeste said the bill on a car valued at $15,000 would be $40. 

Celeste noted that supplemental bills on vehicles have a low collection rate, but Mayor Leo Fontaine said the city will catch up with delinquent vehicle owners in November at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Fontaine said the supplemental car tax would involve people who don't own homes in the solution of the city's deficit. He said it's unfortunate the tax has to fall back on residential property owners after this year. "I feel at least we should be doing this," Fontaine said.

The supplemental tax bill for the average residential home at $150,000 will be about $437, Celeste said.

Sending out each round of supplemental tax bills requires General Assembly approval, since it will raise taxes above the four percent cap this year. The Budget Commission will send a resolution asking for permission to assess the bills to the General Assembly.

The Budget Commission will also send enabling legislation to create an elderly tax exemption for people 65 and over living in single family homes. Budget Commission member and City Council President John Ward said the exemption would apply to people meeting the age requirement, who have lived in their home for at least 5 years and make $30,000 or less.

If a senior meets all those requirements, the first $12,000 worth of their home would be exempt from taxes, Ward said. He said the Commission will likely add multi-family homes to the exemption, since there are many elderly residents who've been living in such homes all their lives. City Council Vice President Dan Gendron made the suggestion during the meeting. 

The supplemental tax bill is one part of the 5-year plan to make the city solvent again. It will need to pass at the General Assembly, as will concessions from town employees and retirees.

Nelson Aldrich March 01, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Woonsocket's bankrupt...just remember everybody,receiver or no receiver,the City's creditors are getting paid 100 cents on the dollar plus interest (TAX FREE).You can thank your reps for that,it's called the Fiscal Stability Act of 2010 and it makes sure that bondholders get paid first. I've never heard of a "bankruptcy" that doesn't include creditors and just because Woonsocket is a municipality shouldn't make it exempt.The City needs a fresh start and that can only be achieved through some form of debt relief,amongst other things. There's a big piece of the puzzle missing folks.Don't worry about bond ratings either,Woonsocket's credit stinks.
The Chorus March 01, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Federal courts have struck down drug testing for people on public assistance. I think AZ and FL have passed such laws...both overturned on appeal at federal level.
Novan for Life March 23, 2013 at 12:42 AM
some of those scum could be homeowners and the majority of food stamp recipients in this city are white.
Lotus Lily March 23, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Agreed, if anything it makes me wonder why on both local and federal level why none of those in power are willing to take pay cuts and make concessions like maybe paying more for the nice government sponsored health care!?!? Kyle is right instead of attacking each other we should be looking at our elected leaders who have gotten us into this mess in the first place, including the school department! I have to travel for my job and no matter where I go I always here the same things, "You're based in RI poor you they are the most corrupt state in all of the 50 states", or "Man I'm sorry you live in a state where politicians always put themselves above those they serve." And I get this no matter where in the country I go, which is why I am going to be so glad when I get to leave this rat hole city and state and move on to greener pastures! You know where there are actual jobs and not so rampant widespread tolerated corruption and live in a community that cares about ALL it's people not just some! And Kyle to answer your question yes the federal government does fund these programs but it's up to each state individually as to how the money is spent and the programs are run and with a corrupt as hell city like ours that was a disaster waiting to happen! I so hope I won't even have to be here for the next elections because nothing's going to change and this city will slowly suck the life out of everyone! Adios Rhode Island and Woonsocket in particular!
Monkeyshines March 23, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Who is John Galt?


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