Stanley: Create new tax district to govern Warren, Bristol schools

Stanley: Create new tax district to govern Warren, Bristol schools


Note: Warren Town Council president Chris Stanley recently sent this memo to the Joint Finance Committee Subcommittee on Budget Planning:

The best solution to the continuing challenges facing the local municipalities that make-up the Bristol Warren Regional School District Special is affording the School District the opportunity to act as a special tax district. The purpose of such a district, as defined by the state’s legislative authority, is to empower the local municipalities and school district to better meet their specific financial needs. This proposal allows the Bristol Warren Regional School District to act as a political subdivision of the state. In this way the district may acquire certain legal rights and duties thereby providing the district with complete autonomy. Clearly, this effort calls for the creation of new enabling legislation that will set forth the following: educational goals, financial requirements, procedures for formation, enumerated powers, functions and duties, composition of the governing body, methods of finance as well as other provisions relative to a governmental body.

The creation of such a special taxing district is based upon the legal principles of equity and uniformity. In this way, each municipality is treated fairly and equally. Tax bills generated for the purpose of paying for public education based on a single assessment of all real-estate within the borders of both Bristol and Warren will enhance the principle of economic fairness. The creation of a special tax district is premised upon the necessity for the public education and in the end the fiscal burden imposed is proportional to the benefit created. Ultimately, the financial burden is more equally spread among all properties within the municipalities.

Additionally, an increased level of accountability concerning the school district will be realized during the budget process. Certainly, regular budget hearings that are open to the public will be required and may mirror those already governing the two separate municipalities. By granting the Bristol Warren Regional School District the power to tax local municipalities are free to create town budgets that allows them to meet their individual needs. It also eliminates the need for the Joint Finance Committee and clears up the preparatory budget timelines thereby streamline ing the entire financial process. Finally, it will enhance the status of the school district as a governmental entity rather than subjugating to a departmental status within a two distinct municipal budgets. This proposal’s high degree of accountability stems from the simple fact that the public holds the school committee directly responsible for the school district’s financial and educational health and well being during each election cycle.

Chris Stanley, Warren Town Council president