Letter: Warren could see 7 percent tax increase if nothing is done

Posted 1/17/24

I hope the savings account is not empty.

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Letter: Warren could see 7 percent tax increase if nothing is done


To the editor:

I just viewed the Jan. 9, 2024 Warren Town Council Meeting and was struck by the statements made by a respected member of the community. Former Town Manager, Finance Director and current HUD Housing Director Michael Abbruzzi advised the Council that, “Over the past three years the budget has increased by $1.6 million dollars in Town expenditures, this excludes debt service and excludes education…”

Having volunteered to help with the Town’s financial condition, he continued “ …you would like to use ’23-’24 actual data for the last 6-months, but unfortunately that data is not up to date,” Mr. Abbruzzi explained “…you have a $405,000. Dollar structural deficit …” and the result of this will be a 1.4 percent tax increase to start with the ’24-’25 budget process.

Mr. Abbruzzi concluded by basically advising the Council members the property owners in Warren could be be facing at least a 7 percent increase in the property tax if nothing proactive is done in this budget cycle.

Of course RI Statute (44-5-2) generally disallows cities and towns in RI to raise property tax above 4 percent, however, there are four narrow provisions within that statute which do allow an increase above that point.

This presentation caused me to research the RI Division of Municipal Finance website. The data comparing 39 cities and towns for tax levy growth, this does not include motor vehicle taxes, or sewer use fees.

2021: 3.93 percent increase (4th highest increase in RI)
2022: 3.90 percent increase (3rd highest increase in RI)
2023: 3.81 percent increase (13th highest increase in RI)

I’m sure there is much more financial information involved as the Town’s budgeting process begins. I am aware that the Town has recently paid out a multi-million dollar legal settlement from the Unassigned Reserve account (surplus).

I’ve read in recent annual audit reports as to the health of Unfunded Reserve (Surplus) account. I hope the savings account is not empty.

Thomas D. Gordon
175 Touisset Road

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