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NARRAGANSETT—The Town Council approved the fiscal year 2012-13 town budget on Wednesday evening. The group met in a special session in order to resolve any lingering concerns about the budget which council members may have held.
No members of the public were available or spoke regarding the budget. At the May 21 meeting, the budge was introduced as a first reading, and council members initially discussed their opinions of the general make-up of the budget.
Then Town Manager Grady Miller, who has since agreed to a separation with the town after the Council raised concerns regarding job performance, gave a presentation of the budget work sessions which have taken place over the past months, and highlighted the conclusions which the Town Council have reached as far as developing a sustainable budget for FY 2012-13.
Challenges which Miller outlined included the continued loss of $2 million in state aid per year, increases in water and healthcare services, and rising pension costs. Liability and worker’s compensation insurance rates also rose by $30,000.
In order to make the upcoming budget as fiscally manageable as possible, The Town Council suggested a number of cost saving measures. Operating departments have reduced total funding requests by $180,096, for example, and the School Department will be level funded, saving the town $467,000. The proposed FY 2012-13 budget figures to $50,363,907, or $244,342 less than the FY 2011-12 budget.
Discussion continued regarding the town’s tax collection rate for the upcoming fiscal year. According to Finance Director Donald Goodrich, the town needs to collect $44,118,433 in property tax dollars to sustain the budget, and during a prior work session, Council members debated the merits behind adjusting the tax collection rate, expressing their concern on the one hand the need to keep tax rates manageable for residents and, on the other, to resist town service reductions if current tax revenues are maintained.
“With real estate collapse around the country, the Town Council believes that we have not felt the full impact in Narragansett,” said Miller. “The Council has recommended a conservative tax collection rate at 98 percent that would provide a buffer to the town.”
The suggested tax collection rate necessitates a $400,000 reduction in the proposed budget, which will be taken from the town’s Major Maintenance Fund, bringing its total amount down from $1.4 million to $1 million.
Town Council President Glenna Hagopian had asked Finance Director Donald Goodrich at the May 21 meeting to provide the Council with a numerical compilation of property values, which Goodrich presented on Wednesday evening.
Among single family properties, 4,165 are down in value by more than 6.75 percent, while 6,485 are down in value, but less than that percentage. 1,019 single family parcels went up in value. 112 business parcels are down by more than 6.75 percent, and 203 are down in value. 52 business properties are up in value by more than 6.75 percent.
The budget was adopted unanimously.