February 19, 2020

Special Assessment to Pay for the New High School

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Recent published reports concerning approximately $6.5 million in School Department “outside aid monies” held by the City of East Providence should be of great concern to East Providence taxpayers who overwhelmingly supported construction of a new high school. Depending on who you believe those funds, which rightfully belong to the School Department, may or may not have been known and made available to the School Department. In the meantime our schools have long suffered from lack of funds needed to finance needed repairs and ongoing maintenance issues.

It won’t be long before the City must start raising taxes to support construction of the new East Providence High School. I have previously suggested to the current City Council, as well as the previous one, that the City should consider collecting those additional revenues through a “Special Assessment” in addition to the regular property tax assessment. Those funds should then be held in “Special Assessment Account” separate from the General Fund and be used solely to pay off the bonds which will be required to construct the new school. This assures taxpayers that those revenues will go to the cost of the new school, and not into the General Fund, where it can be used for purposes other than construction of the school. It further ensures that when those bonds are paid off, the taxes being collected for the school will end along with the “Special Assessment”. That also means that the added assessment required for the school will not be increased incrementally as the regular tax rate increases. Which, it surely will. In addition it assures taxpayers that monies collected for construction of the new school are not shunted off into some unknown, obscure fund that can be hidden from public awareness and scrutiny as has apparently happened with the $6.5 million.

I urge the taxpayers of East Providence to contact members of the City Council to ask that they adopt this means of taxing and paying for the new high school.
This is not a new or unique concept. In fact it is exactly the way the Town of Barrington funded the construction of their newly completed middle school.

Robert Amman
East Providence, RI 02914

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