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Several Organizations Notified They're No Longer Tax Exempt

Seven organizations, including Beacon Charter School and Mount St. Charles, await tax exempt status ruling.

Woonsocket City Hall. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
Woonsocket City Hall. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
Several formerly tax exempt Woonsocket civic organizations have received assessment notices, totaling $382,040 in new taxes so far during the last few weeks, keeping Assessor Chris Celeste very busy answering calls and questions. 

The combined taxes on the land and property of the 13 organizations, which include the Cercle Laurier Club, The Elks, Seven Hills,  Le Club Par-X, Club Lafayette, FRCA, Gateway Healthcare, Heaven of Grace Ministries, Head Start, St. Joseph's Veterans Association, the Woonsocket Masons, YWCA and the Italian Workingmen's Club, stands at about $382,040, which Celeste said would knock about $30 off the average single family homeowner's bill. 

The Italian Working Men's Club, said Chairman of the Board Mike Kind, is assessed at a total of about $600,000, for a likely tax bill of $24,000. "That is a figure that just about equals our outreach to the community," Kind said. 

That outreach includes the organization's $7,000 to $10,000 per year in scholarships for WHS and Mount St. Charles graduates, their sponsorship of little league and football teams and their charitable efforts on behalf of people left homeless by fire or other tragedy. Kind said there will not be enough left over from the new tax bill to keep up that work. "It's going to change the nature of what we are," he said. The bills are expected to be sent out in July.

Kind said the club's leadership was aware that the city was re-considering the tax exempt status of local organizations, and had been expecting a development along those lines. "However, we didn't think that the first notification of it would be a notice of assessment," Kind said.

Celeste has been reviewing about 30 organizations this year on the instruction of the Woonsocket Budget Commission, which holds all financial responsibility for the city. He said the Commission voted to send the notices out about a month ago after a closed-session vote. 

Stadium Theater won state-level tax exemption this year, Celeste said, and there are seven organizations and private schools, including Mount St. Charles and Beacon Charter School, that have yet to receive a ruling on their tax exempt status. All the organizations on the list have been given notice that their tax exempt status is under review, he said.

Celeste said though there is no formal appeal process, informally, all the organizations are invited to question him on the process and criteria for the valuations, which is keeping his phone ringing at the moment. 
Nelson Aldrich December 10, 2013 at 07:36 AM
The same painful road to....Detroit. Makes me sick.
Still Hope December 10, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Have you been to Detroit recently? Last I checked Woonsocket is NOT the metropolitan hub of the state. Woonsocket is back afloat, now we are trying to set a course. I believe that course is for a clear horizons where we can make progress and takes steps to avoid again what we've done over the last decade. Detroit, well that's a little more complicated.
Nelson Aldrich December 10, 2013 at 01:17 PM
I can read...no industry, people leaving, high taxes etc. The well worn path to bankruptcy.
Still Hope December 10, 2013 at 01:55 PM
You can read. Read the last paragraph here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/20/us-usa-cities-fiscal-stress-idUSBRE98J00220130920
Nelson Aldrich December 10, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Providence also got bailed out by Lifespan etc. Woonsocket doesn't have those resources. What it does have is an underfunded pension plan based on borrowed money and aging infrastructure with more debt coming online (water plant). Lots more coming in taxes too. They've fixed squat.
Nelson Aldrich December 10, 2013 at 03:08 PM
“Providence has access to resources that Central Falls, Woonsocket and East Providence do not have access to and for that reason I do not believe that it is fair or proper for the General Assembly to provide these requested funds,” said Ken Block, the founder of the Moderate Party and president of the RI Taxpayers organization. “Providence should not be a special case.” Oops, did i forget to mention that Woonsocket's unemployment rate is just as bad (if not worse) that Detroit's? Oh boy, the hits just keep on coming.
Jay December 10, 2013 at 03:15 PM
The hits do just keep coming Nelson. Do you think the new Mayor has a chance to do something or is bankruptcy inevitable?
Nelson Aldrich December 10, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I think she's got zero chance unless she can cut taxes and restore confidence. Right now it looks inevitable, the only question is how long can they put it off. Detroit managed to kick the can for decades.
Still Hope December 10, 2013 at 05:23 PM
I don't care why Providence got bailed out. They said it was going under for years and it didn't. They said the same thing for Woonsocket. This time, Nelson, you are part of the "they". Woonsocket has the pleasure of being a self-contained city. 9 sq miles with 40k people. Do you understand how efficiently this city can be run under the right leadership? We don't need industry in this city, we need a place to call home. As soon as we stop sucking from the teat of the State and raise our own standards, only then we can have some worth having. Every state across the country has cities and towns that have lost funding, raised taxes, cut programs, and mishandled pensions...Woonsocket is not special, nor alone. You'll be surprised to know how many other towns in RI have shut off their street lights.(Where do you think Woon got the idea?) The formula is simple and a change in attitude is the first variable.
Nelson Aldrich December 10, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Doesn't need industry? That's what put this city on the map. Boy, are you delusional. Yea, Woonsocket's so self-contained it didn't get caught up in the Great Recession either. What a joke!
Still Hope December 10, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Ha. You and your "mill town" people are delusional. The old people in this city are so stuck on keeping tradition and saving our roots that nothing adapts or gets changed. don't get me wrong, we should honor our heritage, but time to let go. Nelson, besides welfare, what industry would you like to invite?
Nelson Aldrich December 11, 2013 at 07:38 AM
Unlike you, my "attitude" will be based on fact, not blind faith. Until the facts tell me things are changing for the better i'll continue to be negative. By the way, you "invite" industry by lowering taxes, not by hiking them ad nauseum.
James LaRoche December 11, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Declaring formerly tax exempt organizations no longer exempt is just the first step as these people try to stop the bleeding. Nothing more than a targeted tax increase, though they won't spin it that way. And the second and third order effects? Who cares!

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