Budget plan would cut property tax rate by 23% | News

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI — School expenses would rise by half a percent while South Kingstown’s general operating fund would see an 8 percent increase in the proposed $102.5 million budget for 2022-23.

South Kingstown City Council and School Board are reviewing the budget submitted by the schools and by Acting City Manager Theresa Murphy. Workshops were held this week and last week.

The board must adopt a draft spending plan by March 22.

Public hearings would take place on April 14 and 18.

The tax rate proposed in the budget, which is what the city charges per $1,000 of estimated property value, would drop 23.74% from the current $14.45 to $11.02.

This reflects the recent citywide reassessment that has resulted in skyrocketing valuations for some homeowners.

“It ties directly into the reassessment process that the city just completed,” Murphy said.

City calculations show that a single-family home valued at about $401,370 before reassessment would see an increase of about $245, or 4.2%, to its 2023 tax bill under the proposed rate, assuming a 36.6% increase in home valuation.

“Of course, each property was assessed at a different level. Some people saw a 25% increase, some saw a 45% increase,” Murphy said. “The point to make is that if you have a new assessed value, you should calculate your taxes based on the new 11.02 per thousand, not the 14.45.”

Assessments that rise by less than 31% generally would not see a tax increase, Murphy said.

A breakdown of the budget shows the schools spending $62.2 million, while the city would allocate $29.5 million.

Among the changes proposed on the municipal side are the addition of a third shift to the city’s EMS services and two additional community police officers.

“We have been talking for the past few months about a new facility for EMS to house a third paramedic unit,” Murphy said. “To go along with that, we’re offering the staffing to go along with that unit.”

The new endowment would begin in January.

Contracts for personnel and benefits would increase by 2.5% and 4% respectively.

The proposed property tax is $75.7 million, up 2.26% or $1.6 million from 2021-22. The city also collects about $10 million in non-property tax revenue.

“Most of our revenue comes from property taxes,” Murphy said.

The property tax transfer to schools would be fixed, the same as $55.9 million this year.

“The reason level funding is recommended is simply that there’s an unknown variable that hasn’t been determined yet,” Murphy said. Among these variables are school facilities and the proposed redistricting.

“There’s been great progress on that front,” Murphy said.

Until the COVID pandemic hit, the annual transfer was consistently between around 1-3%, dating back nine years.

“This is the third year of the same amount,” Murphy added.

The distribution of property tax has been stable for a decade, with about three-quarters going to schools and 23-26% to municipal services.

School department figures predict $4.8 million in state aid to come, an increase of 0.66 percent.

Other municipal expenditures include services for elders, guild, recreation centre, water and sewer and solid waste funds, and debt service.

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