Portsmouth’s $70M budget calls for 2.23% increase in tax rate

State budget gives town more school aid than previously anticipated

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/27/22

PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday night voted unanimously to approve a budget for fiscal year 2023 that calls for a tax rate increase of about 2.23 percent.

The spending plan carries a …

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Portsmouth’s $70M budget calls for 2.23% increase in tax rate

State budget gives town more school aid than previously anticipated

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday night voted unanimously to approve a budget for fiscal year 2023 that calls for a tax rate increase of about 2.23 percent.

The spending plan carries a gross appropriation of $70,086,959, representing a 1.47-percent increase over the current budget. The property tax levy of $59,664,159 is 3.32 percent higher than the current levy, staying under the state-mandated 4-percent cap.

Starting July 1, the tax rate will increase from the current $15.31 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $15.651 – a jump of about 34 cents, or 2.23 percent more.

A provisional budget of $69,967,453 was reviewed at the annual public budget hearing on June 15. However, since then the R.I. General Assembly has passed the state budget, which includes $119,506 more that what had been forecast in state aid for the school district.

While that additional revenue increased the overall budget, it ended up slightly lowering next year’s anticipated tax rate by a few percentage points.

Due to the increase in state aid, Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr. said he decreased the town’s local appropriation (what taxpayers are responsible for paying) by $199,506, and increased the capital reserve fund by the same amount. 

“The changes have no effect on the (tax) levy,” he said.

'Should be returned to taxpayers'

Larry Fitzmorris, president of the taxpayer group Portsmouth Concerned Citizens, said he would have rather the town use the additional state aid to reduce the tax levy.

“This was intended to be taxed from citizens in order to pay for school department operations. It should be returned to the taxpayers as the need has gone away,” said Fitzmorris. “When we get a tax break like this, we ought to take it. This is an opportunity to reduce the tax levy by $119,000.”

For the schools, which always takes the biggest slice of the pie, the budget calls for a town appropriation of about $35.97 million — an increase of $602,689, or 1.7 percent. The total budget for the School Department is about $44.1 million, or about $1.04 million more (2.42 percent) over the current budget.

After the spending plan was passed with the noted changes, Town Clerk Jennifer West had the unenviable task of reading the mandated budget ordinance into the record. That task took nearly 10 minutes.

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