May 27, 2019

Funding Idea for the New High School

Posted

Thanks to the hard work of the East Providence School Committee as well as the generosity and understanding of voters within the City of East Providence, as well as across the State of Rhode Island, it appears that construction of a new high school in the City of East Providence will move forward. Thanks to the State, over 70% of that project will be paid by them. But that still leaves a big bill that will need to be paid by the City, and property taxes will undoubtedly need to increase. In that regard, I would like to express my concern and offer a suggestion as it relates to any proposed property tax increase needed to fund the new school. I have made my thoughts known to the previous City Council as well as Mayor DaSilva and members of the current city council.

My recommendation is that if a property tax increase is required to finance the new school (which is very likely) it should be adopted as a “Special Assessment” and not simply be applied as an increase to the existing property tax rate. My concern, as well as other East Providence residents, is that if this increase is applied to the general property tax rate, those funds could easily be diverted to other budgetary needs and not be used for their intended purpose. That would indeed be unfortunate. Furthermore, if and when there are (and there surely will be) subsequent tax increases to the regular property tax rate, that added tax for the school project would be increased by whatever percentage increase is applied to the general tax rate. In other words the school assessment portion of the tax rate would also be increased by that same factor. The result being that more funds would be generated than are needed for the school project and would result in an unintended “windfall” of funds. In addition if applied as a “Special Assessment”, once the school bonds are paid off the “Special Assessment” would cease. Otherwise the City would enjoy another unintended “windfall” in added revenue. My proposal for a “Special Assessment” averts both of those issues. It should also appear as a “line item” on the City budget.

This is not a new concept as it is the manner in which the Town of Barrington recently raised needed tax revenue to construct their new middle school, which is currently under construction. In fact it is one of the reasons that taxpayers in that community agreed to take on the added tax burden for that project. 

I fully support construction of the new high school and urge the City of East Providence to seriously consider this funding concept as we move forward on this very important project. I urge my fellow taxpayers and East Providence residents to contact Mayor DaSilva and all members of the current city council to encourage the adoption of a “Special Assessment” as it relates to funding for the new high school.

Robert Amman
East Providence, RI 02914

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