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N.S. residents to have say on budget Monday night

June 5, 2011

NORTH SMITHFIELD - Residents will get the opportunity this week to offer input on the proposed Fiscal 2012 $33.9 million town operating budget for next year.
The annual public hearing on the budget kicks off Monday at 7 p.m. in the Kendall Dean Auditorium on Green Street.
The proposed $33,977,854 budget represents a $747,215 decrease over the current $33,230,639 budget. The spending plan includes a $20,914,816 school budget, up $155,121 over last year.
On the expenditure side, the budget proposes $621,252 for administration; $1,642,250 for public works; $4,412,746 for public safety; $3,458,924 for debt service; $51,200 for grants and contributions; $997,994 for general government; and $1,878,672 for fixed government.
On the revenue side, the budget calls for $28,345,032 in local taxes; $1,102,704 in local non-property; and $5,185,246 in state aid.
"This lean proposal allows all services to be maintained, consistent public safety funding, no municipal layoffs, education funding to meet basic educational requirements and allows on-time payment of all increased debt service for town and school obligations," said Town Administrator Paulette D. Hamilton.
The town is proposing to increase its property tax levy to $27,842,532, which is an increase of 2.99 percent over the $27,034,593 levy in the current year.
It has been estimated that the proposed property tax revenues will result in a property tax rate of $15.51 per $1,000 assessed valuation for real estate, which is an increase of 19 cents over the current rate of $15.32. The proposed tax rate for commercial/industrial is $17.63 per $1,000, a decrease of 2 cents over the current commercial rate. The proposed tax rate for tangible personal property is $43 per $1,000, which is the same as the current rate.
The property tax levy for the 2011-2012 budget year also includes a motor vehicle excise tax rate of $37.62 per $1,000 and assumes the continuation of a reduced state motor vehicle phase-out exemption of $500.
"My administration has proposed an almost flat increase of 1.24 percent for residential, which on an average home valued at $285,000, would mean approximately a $54 increase for the year," said Hamilton. "I have proposed that the commercial rate decrease 0.11 percent, allowing the town to expand its tax base by attracting new business, as other cities and towns increase their commercial rate. Motor vehicles remain unchanged."
A property tax rate of $15.74 for residential, $18 for commercial, and $43 for tangible property would be needed in the coming budget year to raise the maximum levy authorized by state general law.
"I would highly recommend that residents take time out to attend this meeting," said Hamilton. "Any tax rate will be based on the final decisions of the Town Council. Without input from the community, there will be a limited democratic process. Their feedback, and understanding of this lean budget is essential."
"I want to review the rationale so residents can feel confident that we have fully explored all avenues in this austere budget," she added. "Over the past three years, the town has lost almost $3 million in state aid, including motor vehicle reimbursement, education aid and general revenue sharing. Through it all, we have managed to provide our residents with a strong financial foundation along with a small surplus, and excellent bond rating each year. Our town remains completely solvent and poised to meet the challenges ahead."
The Town Council will review the proposal and will either accept or make changes for a final adoption later in the month.

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