NORTH SMITHFIELD â€” An end of the fiscal year surplus of over $600,000, lower taxes, a favorable bond rating and a fully-funded pension account are some of the accomplishments the town realized last year.
Those were some of the highlights in Town Administrator Paulette D. Hamilton's annual "State of the Town" address delivered to the Northern Rhode Island Advisory Group, a small business affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce, earlier this month at Banneker Industries.
The annual address is given by the town administrator and is a summary of the status of the community. As part of this year's address, Hamilton highlighted her administration's accomplishments over the past year and provided insight into what lies ahead for 2013.
Hamilton, who is beginning her third term as administrator, emphasized the need to retain the financial solvency of the town.
"Over the next term, focus will be on the delivery of services to residents and how to improve them," she said, adding that a move to consolidate the main Town Hall and the Annex will take place over the next month. The consolidation, she said, will reduce the confusion of having two town hall locations and will provide residents and employees with more efficient interactions.
The move will also include adding safety features to the tax collector's office such as safety windows and keypad entries for additional security. The upgrades are being paid for with a grant from the Rhode Island Interlocal Trust.
Hamilton also noted that process improvements and technology upgrades will be completed this year with town employees slated to receive additional training to improve customer service as well as new computers paid for with federal grants.
North Smithfield, Hamilton said, is one of only three communities in the state participating in a pilot program with the Rhode Office of Management and Budget to look at value stream mapping at Town Hall.
"The process has had much success in the private sector and includes an assessment of the current procedures and looks to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in an effort to cut out waste," she explained. "The outcome will optimize time, which in turn will provide better customer service to residents and commercial owners. Leslie Taito (of the Rhode Island Office of Regulatory Reform) is also looking at regulatory reform to stream line the permitting process so that it is uniform statewide."
Hamilton went on to explain that a reevaluation of all commercial and residential property has recently been completed. Over 86 percent of property owners participated by having home inspections conducted by the revaluation company. Value letters will be sent out on Feb. 17.
In her remarks, Hamilton explained that the town is also making zone changes to comply with the its Comprehensive Plan. Each change is being reviewed by residents at public hearings, and future growth is being carefully determined to minimize impact on the rural quality of the town.
â€œWe continue to review our financial status and seek ways to provide an excellent quality of life for our residents," Hamilton said. "Living in North Smithfield should always get better."