NORTH SMITHFIELD — Now that residents have had the opportunity to offer input on the proposed FY 2012 $33.9 million town operating budget, it's time for the town council to take action.
The council is slated to adopt the spending plan at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Kendall Dean School auditorium on Green Street. The council will review the proposal and will either accept or make changes for final adoption.
"During the past few weeks, the residents have had a chance to hear how the budget was developed for 2011-2012," said Town Administrator Paulette D. Hamilton. "The public hearing on June 6 was very instrumental."
"Many residents spoke to each side of the equation," she said. "Some were willing to have a small tax increase to give our educational system a needed boost. Others were on fixed incomes, or lost their jobs, and did not want any tax increase."
"My administration has recommended a 1.24 percent increase in residential tax, which is essentially flat, and translates to a small annual increase of approximately $54.11 per household (based on the average house value of $285,000)," Hamilton added. "No layoffs; services continue, schools get an increase, and public safety remains intact. The town council now has the final say as to what or where the budget will be decreased, or increased."
The proposed $33,977,854 budget represents a $747,215 increase over the current $33,230,639 budget. The spending plan included a proposed $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 proposed $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 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 tax 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 a proposed 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.
"We have fully explored all avenues in this austere budget," Hamilton said. "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."